Empowering New York’s Asian American Community Since 1989

As the Asian Population Continues to Grow Faster Than All Others in New York City, Advocates Urge Elected Leaders to Do More to Meet the Community’s Needs

AAF issues new briefing paper on New York’s Asian Population


New York City: As New York City gears up for the 2021 City Council elections starting with the
primary elections in June, with 35 out of 51 council seats up for grabs, the Asian American
Federation (AAF) releases its Expanding Communities, Expanding Needs briefing paper
covering data on the growth of the Asian population, ethnic breakdowns, and the key social and
economic indicators for the Asian population in each district.

According to our findings, the Asian population continues to grow and is expanding outside of
the traditional enclaves. It is clear that Asian New Yorkers are a vital part of our city, and
contribute in myriad ways to our communities, businesses and essential services.
Our goal for the Expanding Communities, Expanding Needs brief is to inform current city council
members as well as candidates for those offices about the diversity and needs of Asian

Our key findings and recommendations are as follows:

  • The Asian population continues to expand throughout the city. In 28 out of 51 city
    council districts, Asians make up 10% or more of the residents. With Asian New Yorkers
    living in all corners of our city, the City government must make investments to help
    Asian-led community-based organizations extend their geographic reach to serve Asian
    immigrants throughout the city.
  • Nearly half of the city’s Asian population is considered limited English proficient
    (LEP). LEP rates are especially high in council districts with large Asian populations (i.e.,
    District 1 in Manhattan, District 20 in Queens, and District 38 in Brooklyn). Without
    language services, almost half of the city’s Asian population will find it difficult to access
    city services and understand important information such as how to sign up for vaccines,
    who is running for elected office, and how to stay safe in light of rising anti-Asian
    violence. It has never been more urgent for the City to increase in-language outreach to
    Asian communities.
  • Poverty remains a major issue for Asian New Yorkers. One in four Asians lives in
    poverty in 32 out of 51 council districts. Meanwhile, food stamp/SNAP assistance rates
    in the same districts are also comparatively lower for Asians, indicating barriers to
    accessing services and benefits. The City must invest in alternative social support
    services, like community food pantries and immigrant integration services, that are
    accessible by vulnerable members of our community like undocumented immigrants.
  • Age demographics in the Asian population are shifting across council districts.
    Manhattan’s Chinatown, in District 1, is home to a growing Asian senior population. At
    the same time, children make up a significant share of the Asian population across
    council districts in Brooklyn and Queens. As demographics of the Asian community shift,
    it is important that the City government refocus the delivery of services to meet the
    growing demands for education and services for children and seniors.

AAF’s Expanding Communities, Expanding Needs briefing paper also highlights the ethnic
diversity of the Asian population and their different settlement patterns across council districts
and the five boroughs. Eight different ethnic groups represent the majority of Asian New
Yorkers: Chinese, Indian, Korean, Filipino, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Japanese, and Taiwanese.
Smaller communities such as Sri Lankans, Vietnamese, Thai, and Nepalese also live in
population clusters across the city.

“This report shows the Asian community in New York City experiencing unprecedented growth
like never before. Along with that population, the report highlights several unrealized needs
within our community ranging from language capacity to senior services. As we continue to
grow, we need to take stock of both our population and underserved community programs so
that we can ensure the Asian population is not left behind as our government makes decisions
regarding policy, social services and resources. Thank you to Asian American Federation for
compiling this important information,” said Council Member Peter Koo.

“I thank Asian American Federation for its comprehensive report. At a time when we are seeing
a horrific spike in violence against the Asian American community, Asian American Federation is
providing critical information that demonstrates Asian Americans’ centrality and vitality in the
fabric of communities across the city,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.

“I am very privileged to be able to represent the 24th Council District in Queens, which is
among the top five Council Districts with regard to Asian population. The rich cultural
heritage of the many large and diverse Asian communities I represent makes this District
THE beacon of Asian diversity for the entire City.” Council Member James Gennaro
said. “Our community is a tapestry of many Asian cultures and faiths and traditions, and is
an exemplar of all that the Asian-Amerian people contribute to our City. I am so grateful to
the Asian American Federation for advocating for all Asian-American cultures. I am proud
to partner with you.”

Council Member Margaret Chin said, “The Asian community in New York City is extremely
diverse and encompasses a wide array of languages, ethnicities, and traditions. For each
demographic, there is a specific way in which the city can make a positive impact in that
community, and I am so grateful to the Asian American Federation for their research on this
important topic. Their report details the history and diversity of the numerous Asian populations
that contribute to the cultural fabric of our city, and lays out the migration patterns of the entire
Asian population by Council district, as well as throughout the five boroughs.

Their research also highlights the unique challenges facing Asian residents. Historically,
immigrant populations face socioeconomic barriers exacerbated by poverty and lack of
language access, and Asian communities are no exception. New York City was built by
immigrants and is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Investing in language accessibility
is key to the growth and success of our Asian and immigrant communities. I look forward to
working with Asian American Federation and our community partners to achieve this important

Download the briefing paper at: https://www.aafederation.org/2021citycouncilbrief/

The Asian American Federation works to raise the influence and well-being of the pan-Asian American
community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness, and organizational development.
Established in 1989, AAF works with over 70 Asian American member and partner organizations who
represent the collective interests of 1.3 million Asian New Yorkers, the fastest-growing population in New
York City. For more information, please visit www.aafederation.org.