Thomas Yu has been entrenched in and advancing the affordable housing and community development sector in New York City for more than 25 years.

Thomas is the co-executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, or AAFE, an organization that provides affordable housing in Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Flushing and Jackson Heights in New York City.

Since joining AAFE in 1997, 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. He will continue to manage Asian Americans for Equality’s real estate pipeline to bring an additional 500 affordable units to various neighborhoods over the next three years.

25+ Years
Working in community development
400 Homes
Developed in NYC

Thomas 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. Utilizing his urban planning background, Thomas has also participated and contributed to numerous comprehensive planning studies and plans in Lower Manhattan and Flushing, Queens. Thomas has been recognized by Time Out New York as one of the up-and-coming new leaders in community activism, and received an Affordable Housing Finance Young Leader Award in 2008 from AHF. 

Thomas’ vision for the next 40 years in the affordable housing and community development sector is housing that meets the two crucial pillars for community advancement: wraparound services and opportunities for economic mobility. He believes that those crucial pillars must be the foundations from where we build strategies for sustainable community gains.

People working in an office around a desk
My vision for the Asian American and wider immigrant communities 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.
Thomas Yu

Thomas served on the New York City mayor’s Hurricane Sandy Taskforce, Manhattan’s Community Board 3, the Hester Street Collaborative, Low Income Investment Fund’s New Market Tax Credit team, and Valley National Bank.  

Thomas received a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University and a master’s degree in urban planning from New York University. 

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