Residents of rat- and roach-infested building in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood say the conditions are uninhabitable after a half-dozen children had to be hospitalized for rodent and bug bites.
Paula Laguna lives at the building at 946 Southwest 4th Street and says her 15-month-old daughter, Arte, was bitten by a rat in her crib and had to be treated for the bites at a hospital.
"There's a rat hole in my daughter's bedroom but I have nowhere else to put her," Laguna, who only speaks Spanish, told NBC 6 Friday. "It's terrible and I'm not the only mother with kids in the building."
In addition to the nasty critters, there's visible mold and a roof collapse in other units. The rundown apartment building houses 22 families.
"The roof downstairs in the second floor that I was living in before had caved in," resident Jennifer Gonzalez said. "They had covered it and it started building up mold so we were smelling the mold for like the couple of months that we had that problem."
Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo contacted Jackson Memorial Hospital, who sent pediatricians to the building. Six kids were sent to the hospital Thursday to be treated for rat and roach bites.
"These are inhumane conditions for anybody to live," Carollo said Friday. “I’ve been in many parts of the third world and I can assure you that I’ve never seen any conditions as bad as what I’ve seen inside here.”
The owners of the building have a history of code violations, including one for an unsafe structure in 2009. NBC 6 reached out to the owner's agent at 946 Property Holdings LLC, who said they spoke with city officials and are making a request for repairs. He said he couldn't comment further on the pending investigation.
A City of Miami Fire Department inspector has been at the building monitoring the situation, as the fire alarms were also not working earlier.
Carollo said the tenants will most likely have to be relocated but they're assessing the options. The state gives out licenses and inspects these types of buildings but it's unclear who's responsible.
"You have walls falling apart. You have floors that are cracking. You have no plumbing in bathrooms and you have the worst rat infestation that I have seen anywhere. Anywhere," Carollo said. "This shouldn’t be happening in America. This shouldn’t be happening in Miami."
The city will be meeting Monday to see what can be done to fix the filthy problem. Many tenants said that because of the deplorable conditions, they won't be paying rent that is due Friday. They say rent runs between $850 and $1,050.
"We’re gonna be meeting Monday at City Hall with the city attorney to decide the next step that we need to do. One very likely step is that we’re gonna be suing the owners here," Carollo said.