Invisible & Essential

An exploration of the economic impacts of COVID-19 and xenophobia on low-income AAPI communities


The rise in hate-based violence against Asian Americans since the onset of the pandemic has brought to public attention the longstanding dehumanization of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in the U.S., which has forced many to live in fear and work in insecurity both historically and in this current moment. Join National CAPACD for our Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) summit, where we will explore the impact of COVID-19 and racism on low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and neighborhoods across the country. We will share original research and data, hear from leaders in AAPI community-based organizations (CBOs) about their work to address low-income communities in economic crisis, and explore policy solutions that will advance equitable recovery and provide all communities with opportunities to thrive. Summit participants will be invited to engage in a series of breakout sessions that consider strategies to foster economic opportunity and neighborhood stabilization.


Monday, May 24, 2021
1:00pm – 4:00pm ET

If you have any questions about the summit or run into any issues accessing the sessions, please email


Opening Plenary (including welcome performance)
1:00pm – 1:55pm ET
A discussion with leaders from the National CAPACD network on key issues and challenges faced by AAPI communities when accessing COVID relief and what is needed for an equitable recovery.

Opening remarks will be provided by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. Throughout her career, Secretary Fudge has worked to help low-income families, seniors, and communities across the country. Secretary Fudge also served as U.S. Representative for the 11th Congressional District of Ohio from 2008 to March 9, 2021. Read her full bio here.



Breakout One:  Neighborhood Stabilization Track

2:00pm – 2:40pm ET

  • Building Power in #OurNeighborhoods: Organizing and Advocating for the Needs of AAPI Renters
    Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) renters are disproportionately at risk of displacement due to gentrification, with nearly three quarters of the lowest income AAPIs living in the highest housing cost cities. During the COVID 19 pandemic, already vulnerable immigrant and low income renters have become increasingly at risk of eviction, in particular as our communities have faced job losses and economic insecurity.  Join tenant organizers and housing advocates for a conversation about the challenges that AAPI renters have faced over the past year, local policy strategies that have curbed eviction, and for a conversation about what support is needed at the federal level to improve housing conditions and stabilize neighborhoods over the long term.

-Aparna Bhattacharya, Raksha, Atlanta, GA
-Ashleigh Loa, Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), Hawaii
-Sissy Trinh, Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA), Los Angeles, CA

  • Preserving & Promoting AAPI Small Business Districts
    This session will explore the unique economic and safety challenges that AAPI small businesses have faced during the pandemic. Invited speakers from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago will provide examples and trends in the neighborhoods they serve. They will also share what’s at stake and the need to preserve and promote AAPI commercial districts in this next phase of recovery.

-Ron Fong, APISBP in Los Angeles
-Grace Chan McKibben, CBCAC in Chicago Chinatown
Andy Toy & Somaly Osteen, SEAMAAC in South Philadelphia

Breakout Two:  Fostering Economic Opportunity Track
2:50pm – 3:30pm ET

  • Crisis to Impact: Delivering culturally and linguistically relevant housing counseling services
    Formed in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, National CAPACD’s Housing Counseling Network is the only network of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies focused on providing culturally and linguistically competent housing counseling to AAPIs. Now, the housing counseling industry faces a new set of challenges as the pandemic has exacerbated housing insecurity for many low-income AAPIs and communities of color. Join us as we discuss the impact of the network on the housing counseling field, challenges and opportunities that exist for AAPI homeowners and renters, and how the housing counseling industry must respond to the needs of AAPI communities during a post-pandemic recovery.

Panelists (invited):
-Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, Deputy Director, UCLA Asian American Studies Center
May Chu, Building Blocks – Financial and Housing Counseling Manager, Asian Community Development Corporation

-Rosalyn Epstein, National CAPACD
-Malcom Yeung, CCDC

Closing Remarks (including closing performance)
3:30pm – 4:00pm ET