We don’t know why the Ambrose family moved from Maine to New York City roughly a year ago. What we do know is that Ibanez Ambrose, 2, and Scylee Ambrose, 1, suffered terribly from severe burns before they died from exposure to radiator steam and might be alive today had their parents remained in Maine.
Did they come here for medical services for Scylee, who had a rare congenital malformation? Or was it, as their father Peter said, so the girls could grow up in a big city with big opportunities? Or was it because he knew the city must, under law, provide housing for him and his family if they couldn’t afford it?
It’s unclear how many people enter the homeless ranks only because they know New York City must, under court settlements and state regulations, provide them free housing.
Don’t get me wrong. The law is just, and I don’t oppose it. No one wants anyone, especially children, to be homeless. But given that the number of homeless people in New York City is not stabilizing despite a concerted and well-funded effort by Mayor de Blasio, city leaders should consider a public awareness campaign that lets people know that staying put, moving to a city with more affordable housing or doubling up with relatives may be a much better solution than entering a shelter system bursting at the seams.