Tenants fight for heat in the Bronx

December 29, 2009 9:26:43 PM PST
New York's Housing and Preservation department says this apartment building has nearly a 1000 open violations. They've repeatedly shut off the heat to folks paying 800 dollars or more a month, and during a cold snap like this one, that can be deadly.

Exavien Saez, 5, was gasping with asthma last week in his heatless Bronx apartment, saying it only goes away when they put the heat back on.

"It's aggravated by the cold. It was so cold that we had to rush him to the emergency room," said his mother, Carrie Saez.

Last week Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan asked the building superintendent why this building in the Fordham Section of the Bronx hadn't had heat for weeks.

"That's not my problem. I don't own the building," he said.

A week later the heat's back on, at least for now. Exavien's mom says it won't last.

"They'll turn it off in hour. It won't be on all night," she said.

Bronx Community Ward 7 District Manger Fernando Tirado got the city to fill the furnace with emergency oil last week, but folks who live here say there are still days when it's just as cold inside and out.

"I know these people are freezing. Many complaints a week later that they are still freezing," Tirado said.

The New York Housing Department says Semper-Fi Mgmt II Corp owns the building. They returned a call saying the heat is now back on, but resident's say it wasn't for week. The building superintendent wouldn't answer his door. The building's main door missing and the halls are the same 16 degrees as the air outside.

Exavien's asthma is ok with the heat back on. The tenants here must now go to court to make sure it stays on.

The tenants say even though they got the emergency fuel oil, there are many days and night when the heat is simply not turned on. The Bronx community manager says that company has more than three dozen buildings in foreclosure, but folks keep paying their rent with no guarantee of heat.