Talk about house of horrors in The Bronx. It has almost been a year that tenants of 643 Southern Blvd. in the Longwood section of The Bronx has had no gas. The gas was cut to the building on October 30,2017. What also makes matters worse is, the electricity supplier Con Edison posted a notice in the building that electricity will be cut to the building on Oct. 16 because the landlord owes $12,466.49 in astronomical arrears.
Life has become increasingly difficult for the tenants that reside in the building. After nearly a year without gas, maggots in the ceiling and mold-induced asthma attacks, 22 tenants of a Bronx building have sued their lousy landlord.
Tenant Modesta Gonzalez, 41, has a hole the size of a basketball in the wall of a bedroom where she sleeps with two of her four kids. She worried rats might scurry into the room. When falling asleep, the family looks up at swollen ceilings that are moist from water. The apartment that rents for $958 per month has lead paint, the bathroom is moldy and the toilet doesn’t flush. Her youngest child is a 4-year-old daughter.
“This is very dangerous,” she said in Spanish. “It’s very difficult.”
Gonzalez uses an electric stove and griddle to cook, but that raises her electric bill. She spends $500 a week to feed her kids.
“I buy food and it’s a lot of money for me because I have four kids,” she said.
The Legal Aid Society filed a suit over conditions in the 44-unit, six-story building in Bronx Housing Court on Thursday. According to the lawsuit, the landlord, Sam David, agreed in July to give tenants at 30% rent credit so long as gas was not restored and correct 141 outstanding violations of the housing code.
“(The landlord) is very aggressive about collecting rent but not in the least proactive about doing any work in the building,” Legal Aid attorney Benjamin Seibel said. “People have families. They have young kids, there’s elderly people with special diets. It’s a tremendous hardship.”
Blanca Cruz, 40, said her husband put tape on the ceiling of their moldy fourth-floor apartment to keep maggots from crawling in.
She estimated she spends $50 per day to feed her 7-year-old son and husband. Tenants in the building often have to get takeout, which costs more than cooking at home.
“We feel bad. We can’t even cook,” Cruz said. “One has to work double to buy food so we could eat. It’s not fair because the owner comes and demands we pay rent. He doesn’t care about fixing things.”
Both her and her son recently started experiencing asthma attacks.
“It’s because of the conditions here,” she said.
“Yesterday, he had a really bad cough,” she added, looking at her son.
She pays $1,000 per month to live in the toxic apartment.
The suit seeks the appointment of an administrator who will use rent money to address the sorry state of the building.