This week of UI has been the most interesting so far. Our Tuesday consisted of an overview of the planning profession presented by Chinatown CDC's Director of Housing Development, Whitney Jones. Mr. Jones’ presentation was a brief outline of what his career as a senior planner consists of. This introduction to housing development was packed full of information and I appreciated that it was broken up into understandable portions as this was my first time being introduced to this complex topic. The part that I enjoyed the most out of Mr. Jones’ presentation was the informal quiz that he created. The beginning of the quiz asked us to identify which buildings were affordable housing. I’ve seen most if not all of the provided photographs, but I had no idea that most of them were considered affordable housing. As I mentioned previously, I do not have a lot of background with affordable housing. In my naivety, I envisioned affordable housing as unkempt, unattractive, and undesirable places to live. These ideas were constructed after my father’s retelling of his experiences growing up in the Ping Yuen as a young child in the mid 1960s to early 80s. After this presentation, I realized that most of these present day locations were very carefully constructed, beautifully designed with the needs of residents in mind, well maintained, and finally that a lot of work is put into the before, during, and after stages of affordable housing.
I have my weeks and activities a little jumbled right now, but I'm pretty sure this week we also toured the Chinatown CDC property on 1535 Jackson Street. I was surprised to learn that the Chinatown CDC was in possession of this building as the area is vastly different from the heart of Chinatown and the rest of the larger Ping Yuen housing complexes. After, we were able to tour the upstairs SROs. This was my first time in a SRO and I was very surprised how small the living accommodations were. I was even more surprised to learn that these rooms were considered rather large for a SRO... Before the upstairs tour, we heard from Ms. Heather Heppner, Chinatown CDC's Senior Construction Manager. Ms. Heppner was very informative regarding the construction process as well as non-construction items of business such as figuring out ways to mesh the future residents of this property together. Coming from a Communication Studies major background, I thought that this part was the most intriguing. Ms. Heppner made us aware that Chinatown CDC is anticipating folks that are of non-Chinese descent to be renting the newly constructed SROs in the future. As a direct result, they are being proactive in their planning of how to introduce both old and new residents to each other. This proactive planning is so important towards the quality of life for all and I think that this is great foresight on behalf of Chinatown CDC. I look forward to learning how they plan on managing this.
- Megan Mah