Asian-American group in Jackson Heights takes prominent role in housing discussion in congress: AOC

Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

Asian Americans for Equality opened its new location of Roosevelt Avenue in the heart of Jackson Heights which they say will help their organization administer services to immigrants of all walks of life.

Thomas Yu, AAFE executive director, celebrated the opening as an addition to their many offices across the city, as a symbol of advancing their mission to provide English as a second language classes, small business workshops and other housing services with a variety of demographics.

According to Yu, the space has greater visibility from foot-traffic and offers space to accommodate groups of people to help stabilize their footing in the United States.

“This neighborhood and northern Queens is one of the fastest growing areas of need for our services. Lately, we’ve done much larger scale affordable housing developments in Queens and we’re seeing a more diverse cliental than our traditional Chinatown base,” Yu said. “So while there are still a lot of Chinese speaking client-base, it’s still very Pan-Asian. Our largest section of cliental is actually Spanish speaking, so it actually goes back to our core mission of Asian-Americans for equality for all people.”

AAFE has several offices in lower Manhattan where they service Chinese immigrants in addition to two other locations in Flushing, among others.

Among the politicians at the Tuesday ribbon-cutting was Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has risen to the national platform to become an icon of the Latinx movement in politics.

Ocasio-Cortez praised the organization for their efforts to help those from abroad put down roots in Queens and contribute to their adopted communities.

“Just a few weeks ago I was sitting on the financial services committee in D.C. and we had a hearing on housing and federal housing policy. We really wanted to draw the stories from the district that illustrate what the housing crisis in the United States looks like  what it looks like in New York City today,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We had the nation’s foremost housing experts and we communicated right here, with this office.”

Ocasio-Cortez said Congress was able commit testimony of a family who was being harassed by their landlord over their immigration status to the record of the hearing.

“What we found were some additional tools we could use to help improve the lives of families here,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Every step of advocacy  is necessary and critical in order for our communities to thrive.”

State Senator Jessica Ramos recognized the work AAFE has done in her community of Jackson Heights and the role they have played in issues such as housing and transportation.

“When there are so many different forces trying to divide us I think it’s more important than ever that we support the expansion of community-based organizations that have done such great work and work to help everybody find dignity in themselves,” Ramos said.

The organization recently opened One Flushing to renters at 133-45 41st Ave., which offers 200 units of 100 percent affordable housing adjacent to the Flushing – Main Street station of the Long Island Rail Road.

AAFE’s new office is located at 37-61 84th St. in Jackson Heights.

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