We chose Itchy the bedbug as a Poverty Olympics mascot because he represents what many low income people, especially people who live in residential hotels and rooming houses, have to deal with every day. There is an epidemic of bedbugs in Vancouver. They are extremely hard to get rid of and make life so miserable for people that some refuse to go to their hotel rooms to sleep. Hotels and rooming houses in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community can be poorly run and filthy, and still often cost more than a person on welfare or disability gets for shelter ($375 per month).
But bedbugs don’t only affect low income acommodations - exterminators worry that the Vancouver Olympics will increase the bedbug problem in this city due to the influx of tourists. The Sydney Olympics of 2000 have been blamed for the current bedbug crisis in many major cities. The Bedbug Registry is a North American service that allows you to check for reports of bedbugs in your apartment building or hotel.
Due to Itchy’s notoriety for causing discomfort, he is probably the best known Poverty Olympics mascot. He’s even been profiled on a bedbug extermination website!
Come and meet Itchy at the 3rd annual Poverty Olympics this Sunday, Feb. 7 at 1:00 PM at the Japanese Language School, 487 Alexander St.