Paul Ratha Yem has been representing people since he first came to the United States from a Thai refugee camp in 1970's.

As a Cambodian refugee who could speak English, he was in the perfect position to assist the wave of Southeast Asians coming to the U.S. adapt to American life.

In 1981, Paul came to Massachusetts. The Southeast Asian population was booming, but there was little assistance available to them. As a resettlement agent, Paul was able to help newcomers find housing, learn English, and begin their new lives.

As an Asian Safety Specialist for the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety, he fostered relationships between law enforcement and the commonwealth’s Asian communities, breaking down cultural barriers.

 "Fast-forward to yesterday (May 9, 2002), when Yem, city leaders and state housing unveiled Carriage Place's 24 apartments for low and moderate-income families in two restored adjoining buildings at 60 Middlesex St..."

Paul continued this line of work as the executive director of the Cambodian-American League of Lowell, or CALL, from 1992-2003, a position in which he showed his vision and persistence.

On a blighted block of Middlesex Street, Paul Ratha Yem saw hope. It was a bad neighborhood, forgotten by most of the city, yet just on the fringe of downtown Lowell. He knew that working with federal, state, and local government, CALL could rehabilitate two historic buildings, the upper floors of which had been empty for 30 years, and create much-needed affordable housing for low and moderate-income families.

He was told it would not happen. For five years he persisted.

In May 2002, families moved into 24 units at the Carriage Place Apartments at 50 and 60 Middlesex St. The $2.5 million project was built with only $600,000 in debt due to federal, state, and local grants, and historic tax credits.

Since 2003, Paul has worked as the principle broker for Global Realty Network, assisting homeowners behind on their mortgages as well as promoting home ownership through educational workshops.

As an active member of the Lowell community, he has served as a board member of the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership, a trustee of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and as the secretary of the city’s Cambodia Town Committee. 

Over nearly four decades, Paul Ratha Yem has been a champion for all people on the national and local level, having served as the Asian Civil Rights Liaison for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office from 1992-1996, attending the Summit on Asian Americans in Washington D.C. in 1995, advising President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore on issues facing Asian Americans, attending the Rose Garden ceremony where President Bush signed the 1991 Civil Rights Act, and serving on the governor’s Asian American Commission from 1995-2000. He is also a member of the Asian Real Estate Association of America and the National Association of Realtors.


Paid for by: the Committee to Elect Paul Ratha Yem
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