FUREE opposes ‘luxury’ squeeze - Affordable housing, displacement highlight group’s convention

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About a hundred people showed up last week as Families United for Racial & Economic Equality (FUREE) held their annual convention to demand that elected officials respond to policies that affect low-income families.

The convention was held at P.S. 67 at 51 Edwards Street, a stone’s throw away from the Ingersoll Public Housing complex in Fort Green.

FUREE is an off-shoot of the Park Slope-based nonprofit Fifth Avenue Committee.

The organization is now based in Downtown Brooklyn and is a Brooklyn-based multi-racial member-led organization that organizes low-income and working families to build collective power to win systemic changes locally, state-wide and nationally.

Among the elected officials who attended the convention were City Councilmembers Charles Barron and Letitia James; Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries and Joseph Lentol as well as Senator Velmanette Montgomery.

FUREE members addressed several issues with the 2004 Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning Plan at the top of the list.

The organization is involved with helping about 100 small businesses and about 40 families who were displaced by the plan.

FUREE also remains concerned about the lack of any agreement with the city regarding displacement funds, affordable housing and jobs as luxury housing developments and high-end hotels begin to punctuate Downtown Brooklyn.

“Right now, in Fort Greene and Downtown, we are organizing to preserve quality affordable housing, prevent displacement and create economic opportunities for residents as our neighborhood has become a city-wide destination, and luxury houses and skyrocketing rent are dislocating long-time residents and small businesses,” said FUREE member Lillian Hamilton.

Ingersoll Houses Tenants Association president Ed Brown, who has also been active in the Downtown Brooklyn gentrification issue, also showed up at the convention.

Brown gave no comment about FUREE other than the fact he was not invited to attend the conference.

Meanwhile, FUREE Executive Director Alana Berger said the organization has tried to meet face to face with Joe Chan, president of the quasi-public Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), which is charged with overseeing the Downtown Brooklyn development.

“Seeing as they (DBP) say they represent stakeholders in Downtown Brooklyn, we think small businesses, residents and shoppers are a core constituency and they would want to meet with us,” said Berger, adding FUREE has only been offered a conference call with DBP.

Chan responded that the DBP is willing to talk to FUREE and hear their issues.

“We’re trying to set something up in the near future,” he said.

Chan also noted that the DBP has also met with James on a number of different issues in the district and will certainly meet with her regarding FUREE.

Updated 3:48 pm, October 19, 2011
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