By Chinta Strausberg
Keith Rice is a 38-year-old father of four who wanted to give his children a better home in a place where neighbors won’t complain about noise, but the house he rented in Harvey is a living “horror” complete with human feces in his kitchen sink and basement.
Rice contacted the Rainbow PUSH Coalition seeking help. “Yes, I have a nice yard for my children to live in, but they can’t take a bath. There is no water, no lights…nothing. This is the house of horror,” Rice said.
In Chicago Rice lived on the third floor of an apartment building, but every day when he would come home from work, his neighbor bent his ear with complaints about the noise his children made.
A realtor referred him to a three-bedroom home in Harvey located at 6 West 155th Street. Rice thought it was his dream come true. Instead, it is a nightmare that won’t go away especially the smell and sight of human feces in his kitchen sink and in his basement.
“I gave my landlady $1,000 security and $1,000 rent, and now she won’t give it back.” With this reporter listening in, Rice’s phone rang. It was his landlady, Zenah Tatah. He asked her would she turn his water on, and with a thick accent, she said, “No, I am not getting no water for you” and hung up the phone.
“This woman wants me to pay $2,000 for a past due water bill from her previous tenants,” Rice said. “This is crazy! I already gave her $2,000, and I am renting hotel rooms for my family because they can’t stand the smell of human feces. “
Rice called Harvey’s City Hall, and he was given the personal number of a building inspector called Chris who told him to stop calling his personal phone. He said the house never should have been rented because it is not up to code.
“It’s like I have a home, but I’m homeless. My 5-year-old just graduated from kindergarten. I have a 15-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. I don’t want to send my children to school without a bath.
“My wife and I are really struggling, but I don’t know what to do. She works at Dunkin Donuts and I get construction jobs to make ends meet. My landlady has a lot of money. She owns a restaurant at 18217 S. Crawford Street and a lot of other properties. All I want is my $2,000 back so I can find my family a decent home,” said Rice.