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I own Gallery Religious Supplies, one of approximately fifty local small businesses that were displaced from the Gallery Mall in Albee Square, Brooklyn to make way for a new retail and condominium development.

I was evicted from the mall with little warning and without relocation assistance. I was one of the few evicted small business owners that was able to find a retail space nearby. But since being forced to move, my rent has more than tripled. And because of decreased foot traffic around the demolition site where the mall once stood, I’ve had to lay off seven employees. Now I’m worried I’ll have to close my store.

It just doesn’t make sense that real estate developers and large retail chains are able to cash in on subsidies that will actually lead to fewer jobs than we had before. Small businesses like mine make an important contribution to the community, but they aren’t being adequately supported.

I want to make sure that what happened to my business doesn’t happen again. I’ve always been active in my community, but since this has happened, I’ve been doing even more as a board member of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality. Now I’m helping other small business owners and residents organize to have a stronger voice in local developments.