Chinatown Activists React to Disappointing Census Results

Last year, City Councilmember Margaret Chin took part in a campaign to increase Census participation in Chinatown.

There’s more reaction this morning to last week’s 2010 Census report, showing New York’s population did not increase nearly as sharply as many city and state officials had predicted.  In Chinatown, the population fell by more than 8%, in spite of an aggressive campaign last year to boost participation.

Asian Americans for Equality, which was on the front lines of that campaign, is out with a statement about the disappointing Census results. Douglas Nam Le of AAFE said:

I share the concern others have expressed about undercounting in our community during the 2010 Census; however, we also have to factor in other variables.  We see that there is a decline in Asian residents in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  Possible explanations could be the frequent loss of affordable housing in the neighborhood because of gentrification and the actual list of housing units used by the Census Bureau to mail out the official survey.” Historically, low-income individuals and communities of color are persistently and disproportionately undercounted due to: lower response rates for the questionnaire, language and cultural barriers, a misunderstanding of the importance of the census, and distrust of government.  Concerns around undercounting depend neighborhood by neighborhood.  For example, individuals and families living in basements or other unofficially converted units may not have received census forms or other census literature.

In spite of the Chinatown losses, the Asian population throughout New York City has surged in the past decade (32%). AAFE argues that Asians do not receive anywhere near their share of government funding for healthcare and social services.  “The fact is our community is growing, but we have not seen this growth matched through additional resources,” said AAFE executive director Chris Kui.  Advocating for a larger share of funding is a major AAFE goal.