Organizations serving New York City’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will receive more funding this coming year thanks to the City Council’s approval of a $4 million initiative – an effort more than 12 years in the making that more than doubles the city’s previous investment in organizations serving these populations.
The funding, which comes under the AAPI Community Support Initiative, will directly benefit organizations that are led by and serve Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the city, such as supporting mental health care, anti-bias work and other direct services.
The funding will be key to helping these organizations meet the needs of the city’s growing Asian American community during the COVID-19 pandemic and a spike in anti-Asian violence, according to Anita Gundanna, co-executive director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. The advocacy organization helped bring a coalition of organizations together for years to fight for a city budget that invests equitably in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Pointing to the model minority myth, Gundanna said a lot of people don’t understand the needs that exist.
“We are shrouded by this myth that we are all doing well, or we are all wealthy or healthy as a community and it isn’t true,” she said, explaining that Asian Americans have among the highest poverty rates of all racial and ethnic groups across the city. “We are facing language barriers. We are facing a lot of things related to being a heavily immigrant community – there’s overcrowded housing – so there’s a lot of issues that get shrouded and forgotten if we play into these racist stereotypes about our community.”
While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders currently make up around 15% of New York City’s population, these community based organizations received around 4 to 4.5% of the City Council’s discretionary funding last year.
Vanessa Leung, co-executive director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, said the City Council’s approval of the initiative demonstrates their growing willingness to understand the needs and to help support the organizations doing the heavy lifting.
“The fact that the City Council committed an initiative to this work is really a wonderful statement,” Gundanna said. “We need our community organizations, who are really the front lines of this, to be resourced.”