The Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) brings together working class Asian immigrant and refugee communities in the Bay Area to develop and fight for progressive solutions to address affordable housing, environmental justice, and economic justice.
APEN has worked for nearly 30 years to build the leadership of Asian immigrants and refugees, beginning with helping communities address environmental hazards in their neighborhoods in Richmond and expanding their work to fight for affordable housing preservation in a rapidly gentrifying Oakland Chinatown. Their work also includes collaborating with others across the state and nation to help build a shared vision around environmental, social, and economic justice through power building strategies like civic engagement and policy advocacy. Locally, as rents skyrocket and low-income families struggle to find quality affordable housing in the Bay Area, APEN continues to work with community members to propose policy solutions that address the need to preserve affordable housing and create safer living conditions in working-class communities like Oakland Chinatown. For example, APEN recently supported AB 1482, housing legislation that would cap rent increases and protect people from eviction. APEN's community leaders also worked to push forward the Healthy Homes Act (AB 1232), which included provisions for a program to utilize existing energy efficiency funds to help renovate the homes of working class families and do research into whether these kinds of statewide environmental programs cause displacement.
One of their recent local wins was ensuring that affordable rental housing was included in a luxury housing development along Oakland’s waterfront called Brooklyn Basin. After 16 years, the campaign ensured that the new development include 465 units of affordable, on-site apartments for seniors and families making between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. From APEN’s announcement of the campaign win: “Those Oaklanders – working class Asian, Latino, and Black, largely immigrant, speaking many different languages – made sure that as Brooklyn Basin was built, their neighborhoods and families would benefit from it,” said Andrew Nelsen, longtime staff member with the Brooklyn Basin Community Benefits Coalition. “For sixteen years, this Coalition of regular, everyday people, held together and kept working through 4 mayors, 4 City Council people and the worst recession in U.S. history. Why? Because for our members and for our communities—for Chinatown, Little Saigon, Funk town, San Antonio Eastlake, the Dubs – this is home. Our members ARE Oakland. And we are not going anywhere.” For more on APEN’s work, please visit their website here.
Photo credit: Asian Pacific Environmental Network