Two young sisters who died after a radiator exploded in their Bronx apartment Wednesday lived in a building owned by one of the New York City’s worst landlords, Public Advocate Letitia James said Thursday.
Moshe Piller owns the six-story building at 720 Hunts Point Ave. where Scylee Vayhoh Ambrose, 1, and Ibanez Ambrose, 2, were fatally burned by steam after a radiator valve burst.
Piller made James’ list, which records housing and building code violations, in 2014 and 2015, when the Ambrose children and their parents were placed in the building that is considered “cluster housing,” which combines housing for both homeless families and those families that are not considered homeless.
“Our city failed to protect two little girls from their deaths by knowingly placing them in a building owned by an unscrupulous landlord,” James said.
Piller did not make the public advocate’s list this year because the landlord reduced his number of violations, but his two cluster buildings in the Bronx had 66 open violations each as of Thursday, the New York Daily News reported.
Over the past three years, at least five other landlords on James’ “worst landlords” list have sheltered families sent by the Department of Homeless Services. According to records, four of them racked up nearly 2,400 violations this year.
Officials said Thursday they have not taken James’ list into consideration when working with nonprofits to place families in such housing.
“The cluster homeless shelter program has been broken for a long time and should have been eliminated years ago,” Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. said Thursday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the explosion “a freak accident, and said the city is “trying to put the pieces together” via a rigorous investigation.
Four other families have since moved out of the Hunts Point Avenue apartment building.