Some Chicagoans using kitchen stoves to heat their homes

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - For most Chicagoans, the onset of winter means bundling up, shoveling snow and shopping for the holidays. But for some, winter arrives with no heat.

“I'm up all night, and I've already had to give them CPR,” said tenant Sonja Jeneen Pritchard.

Pritchard has two children with severe asthma, and their condition is aggravated by the way she's been keeping them warm in recent weeks.

FOX 32: How are you getting by in terms of heat?

“The stove, as you can see, we use the stove to heat the house. We use the stove for the attic also. So, that's what it is,” Pritchard said.

On cold days, she lights the burners on her kitchen stove and keeps them on all day. Then, she got a second stove upstairs and she keeps those burners lit too. Kitchen stoves are a common source of carbon monoxide, which could be hurting her children.

FOX 32: Are you worried about the safety here?

“Oh yah, I’m up all night,” Pritchard said.

The Chicago Building Departments was after Pritchard’s landlord. On Tuesday, a housing court judge ordered the home vacated.

The building department says when temperatures fall below freezing, it receives on average of 25-30 complaints a day from people without heat. Building Commissioner Judy Frydland says the holidays can be especially dangerous for some residents.

“It’s Thanksgiving, people are going to do a lot of cooking, and they might be tempted if the smoke detector goes off to remove the batteries, it's not worth it. Just make sure the batteries stay in there,” Frydland said.

It was city building officials who told FOX 32 about Pritchard's home; but right next door, we found more families without heat.

Tenants were reluctant to talk on camera.

“We haven’t' had heat at all, period. For this winter,” one tenant said.

But they did show FOX 32 their kitchen stove with all of the burners lit, and smoke detectors were beeping nonstop.

Tenants claimed the landlord had tampered with the furnace in order to convert the home to multifamily units.

“It's supposed to be a one family home but he's trying to rent it out as a two-family home,” another tenant said.

Both of the homes FOX 32 visited this week were on the 6800 block of South Winchester. Building officials say you should call 311 and leave your name and phone number if you have no heat.

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