By Brad Edwards

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — Residents living at the Harry Poe Manor public housing complex in Waukegan say they have been under attack by bedbugs for years and have filed a federal class action lawsuit.

CBS 2’s Brad Edwards has their story.

Residents are fearful. One resident said he was afraid of retribution and that, “Most tenants are.”

“I can only think of one think worse than being bit by bed bugs all night long and that’s being homeless on the streets of Waukegan,” said Jed Stone, the lawyer for the residents.

They say more than half of the 150 plus units at the Harry Poe Manor public housing complex are infested, stories of elderly residents with bugs crawling on them, one man growing a beard to keep the bugs off his face.

They’ve brought a class action lawsuit. Exhibits include discarded furniture, marked B. B. for bed bugs warning not to touch it.

The housing authority responded with a flier to residents — noting the lawsuit and saying in bold: “Please, do not be alarmed, bed bugs carry no diseases and are only a nuisance.”

The counselor says while true, it’s half true.

“People who suffer from the infestation of bed bugs suffer from insomnia, anxiety, sleeping disorders,” said Stone. “The institutional neglect of this housing authority on these poor people is shameful.”

The housing authority and building management never responded to inquiries, however, in a flier to residents they say they have done everything they could to remedy the situation.

The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages that include mental and emotional distress and loss of property.

Brad Edwards