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Activists Rally Against Closure of Homeless Shelter to Make Way for Barclays Center

Ann Schneider Jan 22

City councilmember Letitia James talks to activists and reporters about the importance of keeping the Pacific-Dean homeless shelter open. PHOTO CREDIT: Tracy CollinsAbout twenty people gathered to protest the city’s decision to shut down a homeless shelter on Dean Street in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn this past Monday night.

Chanting “Governor Paterson, hear our roars, house the homeless, open the doors,” activists representing Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and F.U.R.E.E., along with other community members, spoke out against the city’s plan to tear down the Pacific-Dean shelter—which housed 88 families—to make way for a parking lot for the Forest City Ratner sports stadium, otherwise known as the Barclays Center.

Only one hastily-filed lawsuit by Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn now stands in the way of Bruce Ratner exercising the state’s power of eminent domain to build his arena. Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn views the arena as the first step in Ratner’s plan to build 16 skyscrapers on the site of the LIRR railroad yard.The city closed the Pacific-Dean shelter on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to make way for Bruce Ratner's Barclays Center. PHOTO CREDIT: Tracy Collins

City councilmember Leticia James (D-Brooklyn) symbolically gave Governor Paterson until midnight on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to order the Empire State Development Corporation to give the shelter a reprieve. No phone call came, and the shelter is now closed with the families scattered. Thirty percent of the families were placed into permanent housing, according to the Department of Homeless Services.

For more of Tracy Collins’ photos of Atlantic Yards, see here.

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