Empowering New York’s Asian American Community Since 1989

New York City Council Districts Continue to See Increasing Asian Populations

New York, NY—In the run-up to the November 2017 elections for New York City Council, the Asian American Federation is releasing a briefing paper that details the Asian population, ethnic breakdowns and the major Asian languages spoken in each of the 51 Council Districts. Of the nine open seats, four are in districts where Asians represent more than 10 percent of the citizen voting-age population.

“Our briefing paper highlights the growth and increasing diversity of the Asian population in New York City,” said Howard Shih, Research and Policy Director at the Federation. “While a generation ago Asians were concentrated in ethnic enclaves, Asians are now spread through the city and becoming increasing larger portion of the electorate.”

The key findings of the briefing paper highlight the significant opportunities and challenges of increasing civic engagement in Asian communities of New York City:

Asians represent a large share of the citizen voting-age population. One district (District 20 which includes Flushing, Murray Hill and Queensboro Hill) already has an Asian majority citizen voting-age population. Twenty other districts have more than one in ten voting-age citizens who were Asian. Despite their increasing numbers, Asians have not yet fully engaged in the civic life of the city.
Disaggregating overall Asian data is important to reveal the different settlement patterns of Asian ethnic groups. Different districts have different concentrations of Asian ethnic groups. From Southeast Asian and Bangladeshi communities in Bronx Council Districts to the Korean communities of northeastern Queens, this data allows for better targeted constituent services and civic engagement strategies.
The diversity of Asian languages spoken in the city is a particular challenge when reaching out to the community. Knowledge about the Asian languages spoken in each City Council District allows city council staff to identify which languages require the most support in a particular district. It also allows organizations dedicated to increasing Asian civic engagement to identify where language resources are needed.
Council Member Peter Koo of District 20 states, “For far too long, the needs of Asians in America have been lumped together as if all Asians were a homogenous group facing the same challenges, but this report shows just how varied NYC Asian populations are. As the Council Member representing the largest Asian population in NYC, the largest percentage of Asian immigrants, the only district where the majority of voters are Asian, the largest number of Chinese and Korean speakers, and second largest number of Guajarati speakers, I am proud of how far our community has come, and look forward to working with the Asian American Federation and our community partners to meet the needs of all of our diverse communities.”

“In response to an increasingly anti-immigrant political climate, the growing Asian American electorate is committed to leveraging their political power and ensuring their voices are heard,” says Council Member Margaret S. Chin, the first Chinese American to represent Chinatown through District 1 on the Council. “As a long-time advocate who has worked to open the democratic process to more Asian Americans and immigrants, I thank the Asian American Federation for highlighting the opportunities through which our City can continue to foster political participation for the Asian American community. Now more than ever, the strength of our local democracy is contingent on ensuring every New Yorker is included in the political process.”

“Asian Americans are a vibrant and growing piece of the fabric that makes up our city,” says Council Member Daniel Dromm of District 25 encompassing Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. “I represent one of the largest Asian populations in NYC and am heartened to see that the number of civically-engaged Asian adults in my district is higher than ever. I applaud the Asian American Federation for releasing this important report. The information contained within it helps elected officials become better public servants. I take this opportunity to renew my commitment to serving my Asian constituents.”

Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland states, “The Asian community in Council District 21 (East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Corona) has been steadily increasing, they own homes, businesses, and have growing families with seniors and young children. Their growth increases the need to provide them with senior services, language access and other resources. I thank the Asian American Federation for their important work advocating for its community and arming legislators with the tools we need to better serve them. This Council is committed to supporting immigrants and culturally-sensitive programming, and we look forward to our continued partnership.”

The briefing paper may be downloaded at: www.aafederation.org/cic/briefs/2017citycouncilbrief.pdf

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