The Struggle for Quality Affordable Housing in New York City: Asian Americans for Equality

By Gee, Peter; Nam Le, Douglas et al. | Asian American Policy Review, Annual 2011 | Go to article overview

The Struggle for Quality Affordable Housing in New York City: Asian Americans for Equality


Gee, Peter, Nam Le, Douglas, Lee, Richard, Yoo, Jo-Ann, Kui, Christopher, Asian American Policy Review


In serving New York City over the last three decades, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) has evolved from community advocate to community builder. Today, the organization works for community development and empowerment on many fronts: producing affordable housing, offering social and legal services, providing tenant and minority advocacy, encouraging civic participation, helping individuals build assets, and initiating economic development. This article examines the continuing struggle for quality affordable housing in New York City. The history of affordable housing in Manhattan is intertwined with the founding and growth of AAFE. As we explore how Asian Americans are affected by the current state of affordable housing we'll also discuss AAFE's past and future role in Manhattan.

HISTORY OF THE FIGHT FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN MANHATTAN'S CHINATOWN

In 1974, construction began on the Confucius Plaza high-rise development, a federally funded project in the heart of New York City's Chinatown. Despite city policies requiring employment opportunities for minority workers, the builder refused to hire Chinese applicants. Outraged by this blatant discrimination, a coalition of Chinatown residents, students, and professionals came together to demand the right of access for Asian Americans to those construction jobs.

The leaders formed Asian Americans for Equal Employment, later renamed Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). AAFE coordinated demonstrations, marches, and picketing around the Confucius Plaza site. The sustained effort at Confucius Plaza spilled over beyond the Chinatown and Asian American communities. African American and Latino construction workers and activists also came to the site and held protest signs written in English and Chinese to show their solidarity with the protesters. After six months of unrelenting demonstrations, the Confucius Plaza struggle ended with AAFE's first victory for minority rights and equal employment when the builder was pressured into hiring twenty-seven minority workers, including Asian Americans.

After experiencing victory with Confucius Plaza, AAFE continued to play a leadership role in civil rights in the 1970s and beyond. For example, in 1975, when an Asian American engineer was stripped and beaten by the police for a minor traffic violation and then charged with assault, AAFE helped to organize a protest of more than 20,000 people at New York's City Hall, which led to the New York Police Department dropping the charges. AAFE also led local protests against anti-Asian violence that was happening across the country. For instance, in 1973 in San Francisco, Chol Soo Lee, a Korean American, was wrongly convicted of murder for killing a gang member and ultimately sentenced to death. AAFE organized pickets to gain exoneration for Lee in New York City in solidarity with the California activists. AAFE also demanded justice for Vincent Chin, who was murdered in Michigan in 1982 in a racially motivated attack. In addition, AAFE rallied to raise awareness about the mistreatment of Vietnamese refugees by other Asian countries and called for an end to apartheid in South Africa.

AAFE's path toward community builder began when it started its first housing clinics in 1979 and discovered that residents in Chinatown were living in extremely hazardous conditions. People were crowded into basements and other nonresidential spaces that were illegally subdivided into tiny rooms. The high demand for living space allowed landlords to ignore housing codes and occupancy standards and to demand elevated rents and "key money" (cash payments to secure the option to rent). In the course of its work, AAFE realized that there was no place to refer these people for help. For one, city agencies and community organizations that dealt with housing issues lacked Chinese-speaking staff. Again, AAFE took a leadership role by serving as a link between the existing housing groups and the Chinatown community. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Struggle for Quality Affordable Housing in New York City: Asian Americans for Equality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.