CITY HALL – A little less than a year ago, my community in Hunts Point was shocked and deeply saddened when two young girls lost their lives in a tragic accident at home. With their family living in what is known as a cluster site, Ibanez and Scylee Ambrose, ages 1 and 2, were killed when a faulty radiator in their bedroom blew and spewed hot steam throughout the room, leaving these two young children with fatal burns.

Following the incident, Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr. joined Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and introduced two pieces of legislation to bring change following the negligence at this cluster site.

Both bills received a hearing today, moving them one step closer to becoming law.

Int. No. 1524, sponsored by Councilman Salamanca a the behest of the Borough President, would require DHS to inspect radiators during any inspection related to health, safety, or the physical conditions of a homeless shelter. Int. No. 1524 would take effect immediately.

Int. No. 1529, Councilmember Vacca’s legislation done at the behest of the Borough President, would require DHS to report to the Council and post on its website information about its plans to phase-out the existing stock of cluster site shelters.

“While it has been a year since this tragic incident in my district, it’s my belief that without real action to address the problems that led to two children losing their lives, the same could again happen in the future,” said Councilman Salamanca.
“While DHS and others are making strides to fix these issues administratively, as always, I believe there is a role the Council can play by codifying the requirements established by these two bills to ensure important procedures will survive in future administrations, as well as phase out current unjust infrastructure definitely,” he added.

“It is our responsibility as elected leaders to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have the same expectation of safety and dignity that any of us would demand when it comes to where we live. These two bills will help bring added safety to homeless housing in our city, and I am proud to join my colleagues Council Members Vacca and Salamanca in bringing this important package of legislation before the City Council,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“Cluster site housing has caused an unacceptable amount of suffering for some of our city’s most vulnerable residents,” said Council Member James Vacca. “Late last year we witnessed the horrific deaths of two young girls because they were being housed in substandard cluster site housing. My legislation, Introduction-1529, will guarantee that cluster sites are phased out in a transparent and accountable manner, leading to a safer shelter system. I’m pleased to join my colleagues in addressing these very critical issues.”