Asian American advocacy group demands $30 million in mental health services after attacks in NYC

Michael M. Santiago / Staff - Getty
A rally protesting violence against Asian-Americans at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City on Feb. 14, 2022.

Asian American advocacy group demands $30 million in mental health services after attacks in NYC

A fatal stabbing in Chinatown is the latest violence driving a call for action.
February 15, 2022

The Asian American Federation, an advocacy group, is calling for the city to make a $30 million emergency commitment towards mental health resources after another violent attack on an Asian community member occurred this past weekend. Police said 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee was followed and fatally stabbed inside of her apartment in Chinatown about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. It was the latest in a string of heinous crimes against Asian Americans which is sparking outrage from elected officials and advocacy groups. 

“We're heartbroken to hear about the death from this past weekend. And for us it brings to the surface what we've been talking about for the past several years.” said Joo Han, Deputy Director of the Asian American Federation. “Unfortunately, we know that the minority of individuals who are unhoused or have mental illnesses are violent. The latest profiles of aggressors who have targeted Asian New Yorkers have been folks who are unhoused and have mental health issues or a mental illness. So it seems now more important than ever as an organization to push for an investment in mental health services for the Asian Community as well as all communities of color.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul also spoke out against the attacks. “We have seen far too many acts of violence against AAPI New Yorkers in recent months. We must make sure every community is safe in our state. I join New Yorkers standing together in support of our AAPI friends & neighbors” Hochul said in a statement. 

Just last month, 40-year-old Michelle Go was fatally pushed onto the tracks of an incoming train in Times Square. The NYPD reported last December that such attacks on the Asian American community have increased 361% from 2020. Data also shows Asian American women are three times more likely to report racist discrimination than men

While elected officials and community members are condemning the attacks, organizations are awaiting funding from legislators to respond to anti-Asian violence. 

In April of 2021, previous Gov .Andrew Cuomo and state legislators created a $10 million fund to combat crimes against the Asian American community. The fund was created to provide grants to nonprofit organizations working to curb bias against Asian Americans, including bystander training. 

Once Hochul took office, advocacy groups inquired about the status of the funds, but have not yet been given an official answer. The City Council also promised $4 million in grants to Asian American serves organizations in July of 2021, but former Speaker Corey Johnson did not respond to a request on a timeline as to when the funds would be distributed. Nonprofit organizations say the funds, once distributed, will give them the resources and tools needed to address the spike in anti-Asian violence.

The leaders of Asian American organizations complained they have been historically underfunded for many years. According to the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Asian American serving organizations received 4.37% of City Council discretionary dollars and less than 1.5% of social service contract dollars

Advocates say the latest attack on the Asian American community has brought to light the need for a deep investment in culturally competent mental health services for all communities of color.

Angelique Molina-Mangaroo
previously founded and was executive director of The Wealthy Youth Project, a financial literacy organization interested in addressing issues faced by women and girls of color. She also was a reporter for the Hunts Point Express in the Bronx, served as a Young Women’s Advisory Council Member on the New York City Council, and has worked with several nonprofit organizations, among them Planned Parenthood of New York City and the Legal Aid Society.