Malcolm Yeung champions change to preserve SF Chinatown's cultural identity

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Malcolm Yeung refers to Portsmouth Square as the living room and church of Chinatown in San Francisco. In this centrally located park, Yeung discovered what it meant to love and serve a community from Reverend Norman Fong.

After over two decades of advocacy, Yeung remains committed to Chinatown, serving as the Executive Director of Chinatown Community Development Center (CDC). His mission is to help SF's Chinatown keep its cultural identity while ensuring affordable housing for its most vulnerable residents.

"The Chinatown Community Development Center was born in 1977 out of movement and struggle," explained Yeung. "Everything in this community has been struggled over, fought for, and namely fought to preserve the nature of this place."

Single Room Occupancies (SROs) make up 60% of Chinatown, and Yeung leads housing efforts through Chinatown CDC by acquiring, rehabbing, and converting existing housing into permanently affordable housing.

"San Francisco has gotten so expensive that there's no other option, so on some level, you have to fight to kind of preserve affordable housing, and SROs become part of that fight," said Yeung.

Throughout the pandemic, the Chinatown CDC leadership team and staff have served the community in heroic ways from supporting small businesses to feeding those in need.

"Our staff came up with Feed + Fuel Chinatown using Chinatown restaurants to provide meals to SRO residents, who then actually come and pick up the meals from the restaurants," described Yeung.

In fact, during the first twelve weeks of shelter-in-place, the team helped provide 122,000 meals to SRO and public housing residents in partnership with 34 Chinatown-based restaurants, Self-Help for the Elderly, World Central Kitchen, and SF New Deal.

"I think what the pandemic did, maybe for the first time, and to a whole new generation of folks, is to really spell that out clearly that if you don't care about Chinatown every day of your life it could go away," said Yeung.

To learn more and support Chinatown Community Development Center, visit here.

Go here to watch Chinatown CDC's documentary Home Is A Hotel.

To see more ABC7 Allies in Action, visit here.

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