First, a fire robbed them of their homes; now, a smoky stench and soot make living in a Bronx building a nightmare, according to new court papers.
Hundreds of residents of 1920 Walton Ave., an apartment house near E. 177th St. in Mount Hope, were forced from their homes by a fire Sept. 27.
Now, those who returned to their apartments were welcomed by unsanitary, unsafe conditions, the Legal Aid Society charges in a new Bronx Housing Court petition.
While the building was always infested with mice and roaches, according to residents, they now have common areas “covered in soot and dust, making it difficult to breathe in the building for long stretches of time,” according to the suit, which was filed Thursday.
Elderly and disabled people are “homebound” because of elevator outages, and tenants have gone without gas for eight months, lawyers claim.
“We’re living with the smell of the fire,” said Raquel Ruiz, who has lived in the building for nearly six years. “I’m severely asthmatic – I can’t breathe.”
Ruiz, 42, said her daughter and newborn grandson moved out because of the conditions.“She didn’t want to be here anymore,” said Ruiz, who pays $1,037 monthly for her rent-stabilized one-bedroom. “She didn’t feel this was a safe environment for him.”
Jose Liriano lives with his wife, son and grandson in a rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment that costs $1,089 a month.
Liriano, 54, claims the landlord has been slow to do repairs in his seven years living there – but quick to drag him to court.
“There’s too many violations, too many repairs they’ve gotta do,” said Liriano, who works as a messenger. “Maybe they think we’re not human.”
According to the city Department of Housing Preservation & Development, there are 135 open violations at 1920 Walton Ave.
Neither the building’s manager nor lawyer responded to the Daily News’ request for comment.