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Mother of 2 says lack of heat in building is forcing family to sleep in car

<i>WCBS</i><br/>A working mom with two children says the city is literally leaving them out in the cold.
A working mom with two children says the city is literally leaving them out in the cold.

By Lisa Rozner

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — A working mom with two children says the city is literally leaving them out in the cold.

She says her Bronx building hasn’t had heat for more than a week, so they’re sleeping in their car.

Eileen Hernandez says for the past week, it’s been colder in her two-bedroom apartment than it is outside.

She says last Monday, firefighters shut off water and gas because of a large pipe leak at the building on East 214th Street near Bronxwood Avenue in the Williamsbridge section.

“We had our coats on, hats, gloves. The three electric heaters. A lot of clothes on and heaters,” Hernandez told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.

But after learning the fatal fire in Fordham Heights was caused by a malfunctioning space heater, she didn’t feel safe.

So between working overnights at a Home Depot, she’s been rotating her kids, 5 and 6 years old, who are on the autism spectrum, between her car and her mother’s house.

There are 83 violations against the building.

Hernandez says she and Josh Aryeh, from the local nonprofit Smiles Through Cars, have made multiple calls to 311 and they’ve been told the landlord has to fix it, but the landlord, who was living in Stamford, Connecticut, is dead.

Police say 51-year-old Denise McLaughlin was murdered by her own son in March of 2021.

“I’m traumatized. I don’t wanna be in this apartment anymore. There’s still mice problems, roach problems. There’s still cracks on the walls. My windows still have no gate,” Hernandez said.

“It’s frustrating to see that no matter how many calls we make, whether it’s 311, local politicians, other departments,” Aryeh said.

Legal experts say the city is required to act.

“They have an emergency repair program,” said Jessica Bellinder, with the Legal Aid Society’s housing justice unit.

A spokesperson for the mayor released the following statement —

“We are committed to ensuring safe heating for all New Yorkers in their homes. City agencies are working collaboratively around the clock to restore heat as soon as possible for the residents in this building.”

Con Edison also released a statement —

“Con Edison works closely with HPD and will restore gas once HPD has completed their emergency repairs. HPD will notify us when they are done and the Gas team will prioritize the restoration for this customer.”

Rozner saw plumbers at the home Wednesday and the city says the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has been working on the issue since Friday.

A rep says water service has been restored and a contractor has begun repairs on the gas line, which will be completed in the coming days.

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