My name is Paul Ratha Yem and I am the Lowell City Councilor, representing District 7 that includes the Acre.
Currently, I am the Chair of the City Council Veterans and Housing Sub-Committees, a member of the City Council Sub-Committees on Environment and Food Issues, Senior Citizen, Youth Services and Zoning.
My family and I came from Cambodia as refugees and currently live on Mount Vernon Street for over 30 years. My wife and our children attended Bartlett School and my wife went on to graduate from UMass Lowell. I work as a Real Estate Broker with an office in the Acre.
I came to America as a young man soon after the fall of Cambodia in 1975 and I was adopted by American family living in San Bernardino, California. On weekends, I volunteered to help Cambodian families living in Long Beach, California.
In 1981, I received a job offer working with Cambodian refugees in the greater Boston areas, so I jumped at the opportunity and drove across the country to Massachusetts without knowing how cold it is in New England.
In addition to being a caseworker, I became an activist and spokesperson for Cambodian refugees living in Revere, Massachusetts fighting hate, bigotry and violence against members of the Cambodian communities.
I organized the first ever rally against the violence toward Cambodians in Revere, Massachusetts with more than 300 community members and other organizations participating.
In 1986, I was hired to work for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Attorney’s general Scott Harshbarger as the Asian Liaison to help building trust of the police and widen the understanding of Asian cultures among law enforcement.
In this role, I participated in a monthly meeting as a member of the Lowell gang task force led by then the Middlesex DA attorney Tom Reilly and Chief Ed Davis creating community policing and hiring the first two Cambodian police officers for the Lowell Police Department, and creating the City of Lowell Youth Program, which later became UTEC. The gang violence was under controlled as a result.
I left the state job 1989 to become a banker working for Lowell Institution for Savings and later Enterprise bank as a Community Officer providing personal banking, business loans, and mortgages to the new Lowell, MA immigrants from Southeast Asia.
I left the bank in 1992 to become the executive director of the Cambodian American League of Lowell (CALL) to promote micro enterprise training, micro loans to individual who wants to start a business; To provide first time home buyers training in English and Khmer in conjunction with the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership; and to develop affordable housing for those who are not ready to buy a house. CALL first affordable housing development was at 60 Middlesex St next to Washington Savings bank creating 24 affordable units and 4 commercial spaces on the ground level that include the Garnick’s music center, Majestic Barber Shop, and Sim’s Driving School.
In 2002, I left CALL to start my own businesses that include a convenient store, a Laundromat in South Lowell and my own real estate office in the Acre.
As a real estate broker, I was able to bring Tasty Dumpling restaurant to the Acre at 351 Market St; Gormley’s Breakfast to 347 Market St. And I will continue to help existing small businesses and to bring more businesses to the City.
My priorities are: ACRE
A ffordable Housing for low income family in the District;
C ommunity Safety that keep our families and children safe;
R evitalized the Acre to include clean streets, sidewalks, parks for our children to play sports and recreation;
E conomic Recovery to help small businesses in our neighborhood get back on their feet after COVID-19.
Paul Ratha Yem,
District 7 Lowell City Councilor,
98 Mount Vernon Street
Lowell, MA 01854
Cell (617) 459-3000