'My kids deserve better.’ Bronx mother struggles to get help with poor conditions of apartment

Eileen Hernandez says trying to raise two little boys with autism in her Williamsbridge apartment is unbearable due to damage. There are broken windows, exposed outlets and leaks.

News 12 Staff

Feb 8, 2022, 3:41 AM

Updated 836 days ago

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A Bronx mother says she feels she has nowhere to turn to help improve the poor living conditions of her apartment.
Eileen Hernandez says trying to raise two little boys with autism in her Williamsbridge apartment is unbearable due to damage. There are broken windows, exposed outlets and leaks.
“It affects me every single day because my kids deserve better,” she says.
The single mother says it's always been a struggle to get repairs done at 854 East 214th St. She moved to the private building from a shelter 4 1/2 years ago.
"Everything is a wait, and because I have no landlord, everything is an extra wait,” she says.
Hernandez had a landlord until last March, when police discovered 50-year-old Denise McLaughlin stabbed to death, allegedly by her own son. The incident left one family grief stricken and others in the dark.
"Every time I try to reach out for help, everybody told me, ‘Well you have no landlord, we have nobody to serve,’” Hernandez says.
She says one of her biggest concerns is the fire escape door leading to the roof that she says does not open. So, she has to rely on the front door as her only exit. Hernandez also says she went two weeks last month without heat.
This is when the nonprofit Smiles Through Cars stepped in to sound the alarm. The Legal Aid Society says the city or bank should step up.
“The courts really struggle with sort of who to engage to maintain a building in this context, and so Ms. Hernandez and her neighbors are sort of in this limbo,” says lawyer Jessica Bellinder.
Hernandez, who gets rental assistance, is on a waiting list for a new apartment.
A spokesperson for the mayor told News 12, “One of Mayor Adams' top priorities is making sure every New Yorker has access to safe, affordable housing. City agencies have been working for weeks to improve the conditions in this building…we encourage any New Yorker looking for a new home to take advantage of the many available resources the city offers."


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