Mount Hope-ful

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Luisa Garcia says she uses an umbrella in her apartment when it rains and brushes off the cockroaches from her children’s faces when they sleep.

Garcia lives at 2244 Morris Ave., a 55-unit building in the Mount Hope section of the South Bronx. Her landlord is Robert Heimann, owner of four buildings in the Mount Hope/Fordham area whose tenants have united in a campaign to win long-sought repairs by carefully documenting problems and keeping the pressure on.

The tenants complain of unreliable hot water and heat, leaking roofs, clogged pipes, frayed wires sticking out from heating units, and unlocked doors open to anyone–drug dealers included. “How am I gonna be able to run out they door with my kids when someone breaks in?” Garcia asked during a meeting of the four build-ings’ tenants in mid-February City Limits was able to enter two of the buildings with ease–without having to knock.

After vowing to appear at the meeting, Heimann failed to show up. But he has signed a contract with each of the four tenant groups, arguing that he had made many repairs and has provided adequate heat–and assuring that tenants’ demands would be met.

Four months ago, tenants from Heimann’s building at 2342 Ryer Ave. approached the Association from Fordham to Burnside, which helped them join together with the three other properties to mount the campaign. Tenants say the strategy has generated results and conditions are improving.

“Maybe this contract will make a difference, but I don’t know,” says Bernard Gill, a resident of 2400 Valentine Ave. “We’re going to have to watch him every step of the way.” A face-to-face meeting with Heimann, the first step in the contract, is not yet scheduled. City Limits‘ calls to Heimann were not returned.