Sunday, January 17, 2010

At Freddy's, James and Montgomery lead protest against closing homeless shelter

Well, I'm out of town but I got some reports back on the event yesterday at Freddy's Bar & Backroom, where Council Member Letitia James organized a protest against the city's decision to close a privately-run homeless shelter in the AY footprint. (Here's pre-protest coverage in the Daily News.)

James, as shown in the video below (via Found in Brooklyn), denounced "the destruction by a corrupt developer who believes he can pay off elected officials." (Well, Forest City Ratner gives campaign contributions to elected officials; as for payoffs, the evidence in the Ridge Hill case doesn't yet support that, though it's certainly suspicious.)

James said she'd spoken to Robert Hess, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), who told her that one-third of the 88 families in the Pacific Dean residence were placed in permanent housing and the rest were "shuttled" to another shelter.

She said Hess told her DHS now plans to up a shelter on Tillary Street in Downtown Brooklyn. "I asked why, he just said, 'Have a good day.'"

Why would they close a shelter down the block, to build a parking lot for the arena, she asked.

(Photos and set by Tracy Collins)

Others speaking

Others speaking included Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Beverly Corbin of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), a rep from Picture the Homeless, (photographer) Tracy Collins of the Dean Street Block Association, Steve de Sève representing Freddy’s. (Here's coverage from The Local.)

Goldstein said the closing was premature, given that the Atlantic Yards condemnation case has just been delayed more than six weeks.

At the close the event, signer Crystal Waters (right) performed "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)."

Affordable housing

"There's no affordable housing, when they do the ground-breaking," James said.

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (video below via Raul Rothblatt), who saluted Goldstein for leading the fight against the project, criticized "All my colleagues who very shamefully have continued to believe there will be affordable housing associated with this project."

While indeed there are doubts about the quantity, timing, and firm plans for affordable housing, at least one affordable housing building is supposed to go up beginning six months after arena construction begins, and it's a good bet city and state officials would ensure that would happen, so they could say they've delivered something other than an arena.

Montgomery did add that, if there were affordable housing, it would be outweighed by displacement caused by the project--a matter of debate, according to the environmental review, which claims that displacement was inevitable.

Letitia James speaks



Velamenette Montgomery speaks

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