Categorized | Housing

1663 Eastburn Ave.

By Alex Abu Ata and Alex Berg

Vivian Blanco chokes back tears when she remembers the last winter she spent at her 1663 Eastburn Avenue apartment in the East Tremont section of the Bronx.

“To sleep we had to wear socks and scarves and coats,” said Blanco, who lives in one of the 43 apartments in the six-story building. None of the apartments had heat last winter. “It was so uncomfortable to sleep with all those clothes and blankets on top of you because it’s heavy, you can’t even move.”

Most of the apartments suffer a variety of damage, including mold, broken window frames, cracked walls and ceilings, and occasional rodent infestations. The tenants say the building’s decay accelerated after OCG IV – a company linked to Ocelot – bought it for $3.175 million in February of 2007. Ocelot abandoned its holdings less than two years later.

From the tenants’ perspective, Ocelot’s disappearance was a relief.

“We didn’t have any service,” said Blanco, a 55-year-old hospital unit assistant whose grandchildren cannot visit her because of her apartment’s condition. “At least now I can call someone and they’ll pick up the phone.” Blanco said she got the contact information for city workers who were fixing the building and hired them to fix her apartment. But problems keep popping up in the old building. In the last 12 months alone, 295 violations were reported.

Tenants have often had to do the repairs themselves, at their own expense. When the management refused to repair the living room ceiling in Blanco’s apartment, she hired workers and purchased the material herself. The total cost amounted to $2,000 and Blanco had to take a week off work to supervise the repairs.

But maintenance isn’t the only problem. Hector Melo Ramos, a third-floor resident, said in Spanish that his apartment was robbed and there are drug dealers in the building.

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