MIAMI (CBS4) – Carla Balladares has to wash her dishes with extra care because she can only use cold water. She says the owner of her Little Havana apartment building has failed to provide hot water since January.
“It’s difficult when you have three children. You want them to have a house, a home,” she told CBS4′s Natalia Zea in Spanish with tears in her eyes.
She says her six-year-old daughter keeps getting colds despite her attempts to give her a warm bath using water she heats up in the oven.
“I want her to have a better life than this,” said Carla’s son, William Balladares.
At just 15, William is the man of the house now. His father died four years ago.
“When it rains the water leaks out here,” he told Zea pointing to the corner of his small living room.
The bathroom tile is also coming apart, and the toilet?
“Sometimes it’ll get plugged up and the front will be full of the bathroom stuff.”
Their neighbor Marina Madriz and her family live in even worse conditions. Part of the bathroom ceiling has collapsed and mold and insects are taking over. She cooks on a makeshift hot pot because her stove broke and she says the landlord won’t replace it.
“There are laws in this country and justice. And the landlord will have to fix these problems,” Madriz told Zea in Spanish.
Tenants say they’ve lived in the building at 1420 NW 3rd St. for years and can’t afford to move. In protest, some have recently stopped paying their rent and the building owner, Tucard Corporation has filed evictions against them. Zea called the landlord who lives in New York but didn’t get far. He refused to comment and hung up.
Carla says when she asks the landlord for help she only gets one response.
“He tells me he doesn’t care, that he just wants his money.”
Many of the tenants say they plan to fight their evictions and they’re hoping to hire an attorney so they can make the building that they’ve lived in for so long, liveable again.