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Asian Activist Group Finds Space Across Street After Rent Increase

By Serena Solomon | January 6, 2014 7:57am
 The Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence at 46 Hester Street will be moving in January.
The Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence
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LOWER EAST SIDE — A nonprofit group that mobilizes Asian New Yorkers to fight against housing inequality and abuses of power is moving to a new spot after facing a rent hike.

The Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV), whose 46 Hester St. storefront is emblazoned with a mural showing police arresting protesters, will move across the street later this month to a larger, cheaper spot, the organization said.

CAAAV has been in its current 1,300-square foot home for two years but could not handle the upcoming jump from $3,300 in rent to per month to $4,000, said Cathy Dang, 28, CAAAV's executive director.

"The price increase was just too much for a nonprofit," Dang said.

After a long hunt for an affordable space in the neighborhood, CAAAV found one nearby at 55 Hester St. and recently signed a six-year lease there for $2,700 per month. The 1,500-square-foot ground-floor space is zoned for community facility use, according to city records.

"The landlord was required to offer the space to a religious or nonprofit group," Dang said.

The building's owner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CAAAV’s storefront mural — which depicts police pinning protesters to the ground to arrest them, as onlookers document the confrontation — will also be moving across the street with the organization.

"People notice us because of the mural and it’s in the language [Chinese] of the people who are here," Dang said. She leads the 28-year-old organization's staff of four and its network of more than 400 supporters.

The new lease will help the organization expand its focus from the Chinese community to the other Asian groups that live in New York City, including Koreans, Indians and Bengalis, Dang said.

CAAAV will continue organizing around its two core issues — housing rights and police reform — by advocating for legislation changes and educating its members on their rights, Dang said.

The organization is currently conducting a citywide survey of Asian public housing residents to get a better sense of their experiences and issues, according to Dang.

"There is no one organizing Asians in public housing in their language," she said.