“Profiles in Leadership: Thomas Yu is right where he belongs”

From NeighborWorks America

Profile of Thomas Yu of Asian Americans for Equality

by Madelyn Lazorchak, Communications Writer

“Home is where we are anchored. It’s a starting place for many of us. It can be nurturing or it could be traumatic or a testing ground. It can be all of those things at the same time.”


“Home is something that shapes us.” Yu wants home to be as safe and stable as possible for as many people as possible. In last year’s NeighborWorks America Housing and Financial Capability Survey, 50% of Asians said their home did not feel safe or secure, while 44% of Blacks and 44% of Latinos shared the same sentiment.”

“Yu recalls living in neglected tenement housing as a child. “Immigrant families don’t always know where to go to create change,” he says. “Or where to go for help. But we had a neighbor who was an organizer, rallying tenants together to promote change and fight for building repairs.”

“One way Yu hopes to bolster the community is by bringing art and culture to Chinatown’s Forsyth Plaza, near the Manhattan Bridge. Chinatown has the lowest open-space ratio, per person, in the city. Yu says turning the plaza into a long-term arts and performance space will utilize an area that is empty after dark and bring economic activity at the same time. But it will also bring the community much-needed joy, starting with an art installation at the end of May.

We want to reclaim spaces to say, ‘We are not afraid.’ We are here, as a people.”

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