Bronx woman claims illegal apartment is hurting son's health

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THE BRONX -

A Bronx woman says she left the shelter system for a better home, but says she just found out it is illegal and claims it is affecting her child's health.

Maritza Ortiz found out from a building inspector that she and her family have been living in a storage unit for nearly a year. Her landlord was recently served a summons from the Department of Buildings for an illegal apartment conversion.

Ortiz says one of the biggest problems with her apartment is that it only has one window in her bedroom that is guarded. She says poor ventilation contributes to her son's medical condition.

"My son has been getting sick and sick since he's been here," says Ortiz. "My son is asthmatic."

Ortiz has been trying to transition from the shelter system to permanent housing. After she turned down several apartments with poor living conditions last year, Ortiz says she felt pressure from the city's Department of Homeless Services to take this one. 

News 12 spoke with the landlord who says he was not aware the first floor apartment was illegal.

The Department of Buildings says the landlord will have to restore the floor to its proper use.

Ortiz's lease is up at the end of the month.

"Where am I going to go with my kid and my husband?" Ortiz says. "I have no money. Where we going to go?"

The city’s Human Resource Administration got back to News 12 and provided this statement: “We are reaching out to Ms. Ortiz immediately to connect her with Homebase, our homeless prevention program, to start the transfer process to another apartment. As the City moves to consolidate seven different rental assistance programs into one, we are streamlining the process of identifying and securing permanent housing opportunities that enable New Yorkers experiencing housing instability to exit shelter or avoid entering shelter altogether. ”

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