Neighborhoods in the Rockaways are exploring Community Land Trusts. Photo: Bjoertvedt via Wimimedia Commons.

AAFE’s 10th Annual Asian American Community Development Conference is taking place this week at NYU’s Kimmel Center. This month we have been counting down to the conference with a look at some of the big themes that will be discussed when we come together on Wednesday, Oct. 25. We have already explored tenant rights and economic development. Today — a preview of our panels on affordable housing.

Over the years, AAFE has earned a national reputation as an affordable housing developer. Tapping into once obscure government programs (such as  the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit), our organization has created more than 800 units of affordable housing in New York City. Today, we’re continuing to create new housing opportunities, partnering with Monadnock Development and HANAC in Flushing, Queens to transform a former municipal parking lot into a dynamic mixed-use project for the community.

AAFE has always believed in finding innovative ways to build equitable communities. At the conference, we’ll being exploring an idea that is gaining traction in New York City this year: Community Land Trusts.

During the summer, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation (HPD) and Development and Enterprise Community Partners announced that $1.65 million would be awarded to four organizations to develop and expand community land trusts. These are local non-profit entities that facilitate the development and stewardship of affordable housing and other community amenities.

On Wednesday morning, Elizabeth Zeldin of Enterprise Community Partners will lead a panel discussion titled, “Community Land Trusts: Innovation in Community Owned Properties.” She will be joined by representatives from organizations taking part in the new initiative and by Fabiana Meacham from HPD. Among the panelists will be Val Orselli, who helped establish the Cooper Square Community Land Trust on the Lower East Side more than 20 years ago.

Another topic we will be discussing on Wednesday is resiliency. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, what is being done to protect our vulnerable communities from future storms? AAFE’s own Thomas Yu will be moderating a panel talk on strategies for building equitable communities as we continue to grapple with climate change. Panelists include Erika Lindsey from the New York Mayor’s Office of Resiliency & Recovery, NYC Council member Mark Treyger (who represents waterfront communities in Brooklyn), Laurie Schoeman of Enterprise Community Partners, Ceci Pineda from Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and urban planner Mike Aziz.

We’re looking forward to these conversations about our collective future. For more details about the conference, please visit the conference website. If you would like to register, please contact:  crystal_feng@aafe.org.