Launched in March 2002, PAO is organizing the diverse Asian ethnic communities of Oakland. In the San Antonio and Chinatown neighborhoods of Oakland, there are large numbers of Vietnamese, Chinese, Laotians, Cambodians and Filipinos, many of whom are recent immigrants and low-income. Similar to the Laotian community in Richmond, APIs in East Oakland have limited access to culturally appropriate services, bear higher rates of toxic exposure at work and at home and lack access to decision-makers to impact change.
Through PAO's initial organizing drive it became clear that APIs in Oakland want change and are motivated to get involved. The residents identified safe and affordable housing as their primary concern, and a core of 60 community activists have begun to take on tenant's rights and affordable housing. With language capacity in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English, PAO is outreaching to folks who have not been previously engaged in the civic process.
In just a few years, PAO has grown to be one of the largest base-building organizations in Oakland. PAO has a membership of 400 families and 35 leaders.
HOUSING JUSTICE CAMPAIGN
In early 2003, PAO launched their campaign for increased affordable housing and developer accountability to low-income communities. PAO leaders have been building community support around issues of gentrification, housing conditions and affordability.
PAO played a critical role in stopping the Pacific Renaissance Plaza Chinatown Evictions. Together with the Stop Chinatown Evictions Committee, PAO stopped the evictions and won 100 low-income affordable homes and apartments in Chinatown for families and seniors.
OAK TO 9TH AFFORDABLE HOUSING
This campaign focused on securing affordable housing at Oak to 9th, a large, local housing development project with 2,000 residential units proposed, located in the heart of PAO’s organizing area. This is the largest housing development to hit Oakland since World War II. PAO recognized Oak to 9th as a key opportunity to ensure the housing development project meets the community’s need for affordable housing and prevents further gentrification of immigrant communities. PAO co-led the Oak to Ninth Community Benefits Coalition, which included other base-building and social justice organizations in the area.
In 2007, PAO won a landmark Community Benefits Agreement at Oak to Ninth! Families earning less than $50,000 a year will have access to 465 affordable housing units. At least half of those units will be family-sized (2 or 3 bedrooms). PAO also won 300 construction career jobs for those just entering the workforce. Over $1.6 million will be invested in Oakland’s job training programs. Another 30 acres of open space will be created and maintained.
WORKER HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE CAMPAIGN VICTORY
AXT Inc., a semiconductor manufacturer in Fremont, knowingly poisoned its workers with criminal levels of arsenic, a carcinogen and reproductive toxin. The company fired its workers, mostly monolingual Chinese immigrants from Oakland, and moved the factory to Beijing, China. Left to deal with the specter of cancer and other diseases as a result of their exposure, the workers were organized by PAO to demand justice. APEN was able to settle with the company and establish a health monitoring fund. With the help of our allies in the health sector, over 2,000 poisoned immigrant workers will have lifetime medical monitoring.
PAO leader profiles