Woman living in deplorable living conditions gets evicted
Updated: Thursday, October 24 2013, 10:34 PM MDT
By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas --
A woman named Maria Olivas reached out to KFOX14 to report what she said are dangerous living conditions for her and her children in her South-Central El Paso apartment.
A reporter and video crew were sent to the apartments, and Olivas gave a walk-through to show the many issues inside.
KFOX14 cameras filmed holes in the roof, exposed gas lines, low-hanging electrical wires, a lack of smoke detectors, insects, a faucet that doesn't work, a dangerous air vent, broken countertops, mold, and red-tagged boilers, amongst other things.
"There could be a fire, there's no smoke detectors, if there was a fire, you wouldn't be able to escape this place, there's no windows, the boilers are really bad, they connect to gas, the gas company said we can't use the boilers but he still turns them on," Olivas said. "All of the apartment is falling apart, the roof is falling, the air is bad, we have a bed that sits right underneath the air, the landlord hired an electrician to see if be could put a new air conditioner in but he never did, but he said the air conditioner is really bad and could fall at any second."
Olivas told KFOX14 she had spoken numerous times with the landlord, a man named Federico Ontiveros to fix the issues, but that he kicked the can down the road.
"The landlord wants his rent, we pay him, but were paying to live in unlivable conditions," Olivas said.
KFOX14 reached out the Ontiveros for his side of the story.
He told KFOX14 he was never able to gain entry to Olivas' apartment because he claimed she and her husband are members of the gang Barrio Azteca, and that the family, including the children, routinely use cocaine and marijuana.
Olivas strongly denied those allegations, and added, "If I was doing or selling drugs, would I be living in this hellhole?"
Ontiveros also claimed Olivas hadn't paid rent for the last two months. Olivas admitted that was true.
Ontiveros took the issue to eviction court, and Olivas was evicted from her property on Thursday. She has five days to vacate her home.
KFOX14 reached out to Texas Gas Service, who confirmed that red tags were placed at the apartment complex boilers in 2006. The company said tags are only placed if the boilers won't make code inspections, or if they are a safety hazard, and stressed that a boiler with a red tag should absolutely not be in use.
KFOX14 called Ontiveros on Thursday to see if he would be willing to meet a crew at the property or take a look at the video the station has of the apartment.
Ontiveros declined, said he did not wish to have his face on television, and informed us that the eviction court had sided with him because she hadn't paid her last two months of rent.
KFOX14 acknowledged she hadn't paid her rent, but asked Ontiveros to respond to the fact that the family had been living in miserable conditions.
"She's been living there for three years now, and the apartment was in good condition when she first moved in," Ontiveros said.
KFOX14 then asked Ontiveros about the boilers, and if he was aware that using red-tagged utilities is extremely dangerous, and possibly illegal.
"Yes, but I have people working on those, I think they're red tagged for some other issue," Ontiveros said.
Olivas told KFOX14 she had filed a complaint with the city regarding the issues in the apartment, but was told the case had been "cancelled".
KFOX14 reached out to the city code compliance division several times over the last two weeks before airing the story, however, a response was never given.