Enterprise Community Partners, one of the nation’s leading affordable housing innovators, recognized AAFE Executive Director Thomas Yu and Asian Americans for Equality, as a community honoree at Enterprise New York’s 40th anniversary gala. The celebration took place last night at Chelsea Piers. Yu is one of Enterprise’s “Impactful 40,” a group of community development professionals across the country who have helped “break boundaries and strengthen communities.”
As Enterprise noted, Yu has been advancing the affordable housing and community development sector in New York City for more than 25 years. “Since joining AAFE in 1997,” Enterprise explained in a recent profile on its website, “Thomas has overseen the development of over 400 units of low and very low income family housing. His work through Asian Americans for Equality has brought in $80 million in capital, which he has worked to reinvest back into the New York communities his organization serves.”
Yu has also provided technical assistance to other nonprofit organizations, building a domestic violence shelter for New York Asian Women’s Center and lending real estate expertise to the Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS. Yu serves on the board of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), an organization AAFE helped found, and Hester Street Collaborative, among other organizations.
Enterprise has been supporting AAFE’s affordable housing work for almost 40 years. In the 1980s, the two organizations partnered to develop the first affordable rental project in New York City utilizing federal tax credits. The development, Equality House, in Manhattan’s Chinatown, established AAFE as a trusted affordable housing developer and became a model for other developers to create low-income housing with tax credit financing.
“Enterprise has always been a partner willing to take the plunge with us being the guinea pigs in piloting new programs, many of which have become models in the field,” said Yu. “Whether being one of the first to work on New York City’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit projects or establishing flexible small landlord repair funds, Enterprise is a trusted partner to tinker with new and better ways of advancing our field. I am heartened to find myself working with the same dedicated folks I started out with years later, and to continue to support one another.”
“My vision for the Asian American and wider immigrant communities,” said Yu, “is that they become thriving, fully-resourced and connected members of the great American society, free from discrimination, poverty and racial violence. We should not accept anything less.”
Other community honorees at last night’s gala included CAMBA/CHV, Community League of the Heights, Fordham-Bedford Housing Corporation, INHS and MHANY Management Inc.
Enterprise Community Partners is a national nonprofit that exists to make a good home possible for the millions of families without one. Enterprise supports community development organizations on the ground, aggregate and invest capital for impact, advance housing policy at every level of government, and build and manage communities directly. Since 1982, Enterprise has invested $54 billion and created 873,000 homes across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – all to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging.
Through community development, AAFE advances racial, social and economic justice for Asian Americans and other systematically disadvantaged communities, guided by our experiences as Asian Americans and our commitment to civil rights. We have created more than 1,000 affordable rental units in Manhattan and Queens and provided over $450 million in mortgage financing for first-time homebuyers. Through our affiliate, Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, AAFE supports immigrant entrepreneurs, offering low-interest loans and training programs. From neighborhood offices in Chinatown and the Lower East Side (Manhattan) and Flushing and Jackson Heights (Queens) we provide an array of multilingual counseling and educational programs in support of low-income tenants, seniors and immigrant youth.