Taking your questions in reverse order, if you ignore it, it won't be good, just like ignoring some strange growth on your body wouldn't be good and for the same reason.
If you are truly at the poverty level, you should be able to get a public assigned counsel, public defender, legal aid or pro bono attorney to assist you. Ask at the Court Clerk's office or call the local bar association.
As to the merits, and your first question, generally speaking, for constitutional reasons (relating to the prohibition on "ex post facto laws"), if your building or structure existed prior to the zoning ordinance or building code whose violations are being complained of, the building is "grandfathered" and the municipality nor your neighbors can take action against it or require compliance or fine you for noncompliance. The neighbors or the code enforcement officer might not know this, however, and it's up to you to prove it to them.
A simple call or visit to the code enforcement officer might make this problem go away. Take whatever evidence you have that the building existed before the ordinance (old photos, etc.) if you have it, if you don't, your testimony may be enough. The municipality should have tax and assessment records that document the year of initial construction.
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