5 Asian Americans Working Toward Housing Equality

AAPI Heritage Month cover photo

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In that spirit, we’re spotlighting a handful of Asian Americans who’ve had a positive impact on the housing market. Their hard work continues to inspire others to make housing in America more equitable for all. Getting there won’t happen overnight, but these folks have certainly paved the way.

1. Margaret Chin

Margaret Chin emigrated to New York City from Hong Kong when she was just 9 years old. In the decades that followed, she went on to become the first Asian American woman to serve as a New York City council member. As a public servant, she has spent the bulk of her career helping low-income groups, working families, and immigrants. She has been especially devoted to affordable housing for all.

Chin has been a driving force in ending New York City’s housing crisis and ultimately serving the people she represents. She also helped form Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) where she spearheaded advocacy and community organizing efforts. To learn more about the important work AAFE is doing, check out their mission and objectives.

2. Chris Kui

Chris Kui is an activist who spent three decades as the executive director of AAFE. It was no small role. During this time, he worked tirelessly on community development and initiatives related to civil rights and fair housing. He is perhaps best known for being a voice for underserved Asian Americans and immigrants throughout New York City.

His time at AAFE generated hundreds of millions of dollars that ultimately went toward new housing units for homeless and low-income families and individuals. What’s more, he worked toward unlocking mortgage financing for these marginalized groups.

3. Angie Liou

Angie Liou serves at the helm of the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), which was formed to serve Asian American immigrants in Boston’s Chinatown. As executive director, she has long played a key role in ending homelessness and opening up affordable housing for all. This goes beyond simply building homes. With a master’s degree in city planning, Liou is equally devoted to improving communities and ultimately empowering the families who call these places home. She’s been working in this space since 2004, helping to provide safe and affordable housing to all she serves. Here’s a snapshot of ACDC’s values.

4. Seema Agnani

Seema Agnani has dedicated her professional career to community development and immigrant rights. Since 2017, she has served as the executive director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD). The mission is clear — to provide these communities with the economic and social justice they deserve. Prior to her time at CAPACD, Agnani helped create Chhaya CDC. The organization is made up of community-based groups that are working together to help Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in poverty. For over 25 years, Agnani has made it her mission to be an advocate and a voice for this community. You can read more about CAPACD’s objectives here.

5. Allen Okamoto and Allen Chiang

In 2003, Allen Okamoto and Allen Chiang helped get the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) off the ground. It’s a national nonprofit organization that was formed to elevate homeownership among the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Okamoto is the owner of San Francisco’s largest Japanese American real estate agency. The role has enabled him to serve the Japanese American community as they navigate real estate and homeownership needs. Chiang also owns his own real estate agency where he manages hundreds of agents and oversees multiple community programs. Here’s an overview of all that AREAA is doing to serve these communities.

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