Tenant says living conditions are hazardous - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Tenant says living conditions are hazardous

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Broken smoke alarms, mold and a mice infestation.

That's just some of the many problems some Hartford tenants have been dealing with in their apartments.

After a child was rushed to the hospital after eating mouse poison, tenants aren't keeping quiet, and now, a government agency is taking action.

Milagros Ortiz took Eyewitness News into her Main Street apartment in Hartford, showing what she's been dealing with for over a year.

There are gaps on both sides of the windows of her first-floor apartment, and others are drilled shut, and not being able to open a window is concerning to Ortiz, who has three children.

“They drilled not one, two but three screws on the top so if there is a fire, my daughter can't open the window from the bottom because it's off track,” Ortiz said.

That’s not even the worst of it. She has a problem with mice as well.

She cleaned a counter top Tuesday morning and just hours later, mouse dropping appeared. She said her daughter doesn't like sleeping in her own bed.

“She woke up one day screaming while I was home that there was a mouse in her bed. I thought she was lying and when I went to look, there was a mouse stuck in her blanket,” Ortiz said.

She isn’t alone either.

Dozens of tenants came together at a Hartford church to voice their concerns about the owner of the property, Emmanuel Ku with Ah Min Holdings, a Bronx-based company.

He owns 26 buildings in the clay arsenal neighborhood in Hartford and there are over 150 apartments.

Ku has a contract with Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, to subside rent for the section-8 properties.

HUD got word about what's been going on two months ago and sent out an inspector.

HUD was also at Tuesday’s meeting.

“He came back with some real concerns regarding that property with pictures and we were alarmed by what we saw,” said Rhonda Siciliano, of HUD.

Officials said they gave the owner a "notice of violation" and he has worked with them to fix the problems, but there are more that keep popping up.

“We are committed to working with them to ensure they're living in safe and sanitary conditions because this is not acceptable to us,” Siciliano said.

The city of Hartford is also involved.

Kiley Gosselin, Deputy Director of Hartford’s Department of Development Services, released a statement on Tuesday that said “Several weeks ago, we were made aware of the severity of unreported violations at this group of properties. Since then we have been in touch with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as they have begun a thorough inspection process. The conditions in many of these apartments remain absolutely unacceptable, and we are grateful to residents for raising their concerns. We encourage residents to contact the city to report their complaints and allow our inspectors to review their property because it helps us build a record of problems we can refer to. Property owners have an obligation to provide safe and secure housing, and we will be as aggressive as possible in making sure these problems are addressed effectively.”

According to the city, "Since Emmanuel Ku purchased the 30 properties, comprising approximately 150 units, in January of 2011 the City has received and responded to 86 Housing Code Enforcement inspection requests from tenants or concerned parties. In addition, over the same period of time for the same 30 properties, the City conducted 21 building code inspections (potentially tied to renovations or other structural concerns) and 16 general public health violation inspections."

Eyewitness News has not heard back from the owner.

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