WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 30, 2015) — The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on Monday released a FACT SHEET on Investing in Low-Income Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities.
President Obama signed Executive Order 13515 on October 14, 2009, to re-establish the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, with the purpose of facilitating access to federal programs that can improve the quality of life for underserved communities. Today, AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the country, growing over four times as rapidly as the total U.S. population. The AAPI population is expected to double to more than 47 million by 2060.
Unfortunately, the AAPI community is often inaccurately portrayed as homogenously self-sufficient, well-educated, and upwardly mobile. For years, this false depiction of success has led to the invisibility of very real and serious issues – including unemployment, poverty, and a lack of affordable housing, that affect AAPI communities – and to limit the funding support and resources necessary to address these issues. In fact, despite its rapid growth in size and diversity, over the past ten years, philanthropic resources allocated to address AAPI-specific issues have only increased by 0.1% to a total 0.3%. Yet, the recent release of disaggregated data by the U.S. Department of Labor points to the increasingly urgent need to address issues of poverty and unemployment in AAPI communities.
In April 2012, the Initiative hosted the first ever National Philanthropic Briefing on AAPIs at the White House, where senior Administration officials highlighted the growing needs of the AAPI population. There, the Kresge, Ford, and Kellogg Foundations made a collective $1 million commitment to develop a blueprint for coordinated public and philanthropic investment in AAPI communities—a monumental first step in assisting often overlooked communities.
Now, on September 30, 2015, members of both the public and private sector will convene at the White House for the Public-Private Partnership Summit on Issues Facing Low-Income AAPI Communities, in order to evaluate the progress made thus far and make additional commitments that will benefit the AAPI community going forward.
The following highlights several public and private commitments that are beginning to address the critical issues faced by low-income AAPI communities:
- Increasing the minimum wage
- Disaggregating data to better under the needs of low-income AAPI communities
- Creating job opportunities
- Ensuring families are economically secure and stable
- Providing opportunities for recent immigrants
- Improving financial literacy
- Improving neighborhoods and urban developments
- Empowering and supporting homebuyers
- Asset building in historically underserved and emerging communities
- Building the capacity of local organizations
Increasing the minimum wage
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken a strong stance in ensuring that workers earn enough to support themselves and their families. On June 12, 2015, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish standards and procedures for enforcing the minimum wage protections of Executive Order 13658, which raises the minimum wage for workers on Federal construction and service contracts. And most recently, on September 16, 2015, DOL published a Notice announcing that the wage paid to workers performing work in connection with federal contracts will increase to $10.15 an hour, beginning January 1, 2016.
Disaggregating data to better under the needs of low-income AAPI communities
- The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annually publishes the Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity report, which recently added unemployment rates and related labor force estimates within the AAPI community in its August 2014 report. For the first time, in the August 2014 report, BLS included disaggregated data for Asian subgroups, including: Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, among others. The BLS will continue to publish disaggregated data in future annual reports.
- Over the past year, theU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has reviewed and identified additional opportunities for further disaggregation of AAPI data. Consequently, the American Housing Survey, conducted biennially, will now include the collection of Asian subgroup data starting in 2015. The Subsidized Households Form 50059 will include advancements in disaggregated data collection currently in use by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Finally, the Annual Homelessness Assessment Reportwill now differentiate between “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” populations.
- Since 1990, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has invested more than $121 million in more than 225 projects in support of AAPI organizations, institutions and communities. Investments are advancing data disaggregation and creating new metrics for making AAPI populations visible in information systems influencing policy decisions, especially in health.
Creating job opportunities
- In 2014 and 2015, DOL awarded nearly $1.1 billion in competitive, job-driven training grants that are creating and expanding evidence-based, earn-and-learn models such as Registered Apprenticeship and on-the-job training. These grants are targeting a diverse group of workers, including the long-term unemployed, new immigrants, and women in non-traditional occupations.
- DOL has also focused on the needs of at-risk and disconnected youth, aligned with and in support of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. In 2014 and 2015, DOL awarded more than $350 million in competitive grants to support YouthBuild programs, diversion employment programs for youth in the juvenile justice system, and other innovative programs focused on equipping young people with the skills needed to succeed in 21st century careers.
- DOL also released the revised Career Pathways Toolkit in August 2015. The Toolkit was created to support states in implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA), which emphasizes the adoption and expansion of career pathways models within the public workforce system.The Toolkit aims to provide a framework for states and local partners to create career pathways systems and programs tailored to serve a diverse range of job seekers, from foreign trained immigrants to disconnected youth to dislocated workers.
Ensuring families are economically secure and stable
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration of Children and Families (ACF) has long provided intervention services and assistance to children, families, and individuals experiencing poverty through programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants. Grantees under the Healthy Marriage Responsible Fatherhood program include the Cambodian Association of America in Long Beach, CA; Keiki O Ka Aina Preschool in Honolulu, HI; and the Office of Samoan Affairs in Los Angeles.
- ACF also supports low-income AAPI communities in Oakland, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Honolulu, HI; and the Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN through its Community Economic Development (CED)program. Between 2008 and 2017, OCS will have invested nearly $3.5 million in grants and created 213 jobs. CED grants support employment and commercial development projects designed to provide economic self-sufficiency for low-income residents and their communities.
- ACF has also focused efforts in American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, under their Territories Together Initiative. The Initiative includes efforts to maintain regular communication and provide technical assistance to the Human Services director in participating Territories, and to work with the Outer Pacific Subcommittee of HHS Regional Director’s Federal Regional Council to ensure that federal funds are being fully utilized.
- In addition to ACF, the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) made efforts to promote self-sufficiency and cultural preservation in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. For instance, the ANA grantee Hawaiian Community Assets assisted 300 homeless individuals and families in shelters obtain and retain permanent housing by providing financial literacy education and credit counseling services.
Providing opportunities for recent immigrants
- In November 2014, the President established the White House Task Force on New Americans, co-chaired by Cecelia Munoz, who heads the Domestic Policy Council, and Leon Rodriguez, Director ofU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Task Force is a government-wide effort tasked with enhancing the integration of immigrants and refugees into communities around the nation. In April 2015, the Task Force released a strategic action plan with a set of concrete steps to help promote immigrant and refugee integration civically, economically, and linguistically. As a part of these efforts, President Obama launched the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness Campaign, a project with nonprofit Civil Nation, to encourage eligible immigrants to take an important step in their American journey and commit to citizenship. To launch this effort, the President released a video message to encourage eligible lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to commit to citizenship today. Additionally, the Task Force launched the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign in partnership with Welcoming America, in an effort to help local communities act on a set of principles to build inclusive, welcoming communities that allow all residents to thrive and succeed, thereby enhancing communities at large.
- Citi and the Citi Foundation have worked to meet the needs of Asian and AAPI communities in the U.S. and abroad, investing more than $16 million in 2015 in the creation of scalable solutions for expanding financial access, improving income generation, and building intergenerational wealth. Citi recognizes citizenship, for those who are eligible, is an economic asset resulting in boosts to both household incomes and the economy as a whole. In 2014, Citi Community Development joined the mayors of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, as well as nonprofit partners to launch Cities for Citizenship, a national initiative to promote the naturalization and integration of nearly 9 million eligible, legal permanent residents. Cities for Citizenship now has 18 member cities working toward the goal of expanding access to legal assistance, financial education and counseling, and microloans, enabling new citizens to achieve economic success.
- The Open Society Foundations (OSF) have invested more than $100 million to support immigrant rights and integration in the United States since 1997. Specific to AAPI communities, OSF has provided approximately $600,000 over the past two years to raise awareness of housing and economic needs of low‐income AAPIs and increase federal investments and resources to low‐income AAPI neighborhoods.
Improving financial literacy
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has made strides in promoting financial capability and literacy by teaching Americans how to make key financial decisions. In collaboration with DOL, CFPB has launched a Financial Coaching Initiative that will place 60 certified coaches in DOL’s American Job Centers and community-centered non-profits across the nation. The coaches will provide free coaching to help consumers develop a personal plan for financial success.
- CFPB has also teamed up with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) with the Know Before You Owe: Student Loans project. The project aims to help students better understand what types of loans and grants are available, which ones they qualify for, and how specific loan products can affect their future debt.
Improving neighborhoods and urban developments
- Through the Promise Zones initiative, the Department of Justice (DOJ), ED, HUD, DOC, HHS, and the Department of Agriculture, have collaborated together to align resources in targeting 20 distressed and low-income areas most affected by the recession to: create jobs, improve affordable housing, expand educational opportunities, provide tax incentives for investing in these Zones, and partner with community-based organizations. Designees receive competitive preference for place-based agency-specific investments such as Choice Neighborhoods (HUD), Promise Neighborhoods (ED), and Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (DOJ). A Promise Zone in Los Angeles, CA prioritizes communities in Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Pico Union, and Westlake, which have high AAPI populations.
- This past year, President Obama launched ConnectHome, an initiative to expand high speed broadband to all Americans. Over the next year, the pilot program intends to reach over 275, 000 low-income households – nearly 200,000 children – in 27 cities and 1 tribal nation. By building regional partnerships with private and public-sector leaders, HUD seeks to increase access to the Internet for low-income Americans, including low-income AAPI communities.
- HUD and the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative program supports locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Local leaders, residents, and stakeholders, such as public housing authorities, cities, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers, come together to create and implement a plan that transforms distressed HUD housing and addresses the challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. The program is designed to catalyze critical improvements in neighborhood assets, including vacant property, housing, services and schools.
- HUD created the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) in order to give public housing authorities a powerful tool to preserve and improve public housing properties and address the $26 billion dollar nationwide backlog of deferred maintenance. RAD also gives owners of three HUD “legacy” programs (Rent Supplement, Rental Assistance Payment, and Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation) the opportunity to enter into long-term contracts that facilitate the financing of improvements.
- The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) invested $375,000 this year in AAPI communities through the new Our Town creative placemaking grants in Seattle, WA; Los Angeles, CA; and St. Paul, MN. Through this program, NEA provides grants for arts-based community development projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core.
- Bank of America has assisted AAPI organizations in building a network of strong and capable housing counseling agencies and promoting AAPI small businesses. To help advance AAPI small businesses across the nation, Bank of America supported the recent development of the National Asian Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship through leadership support and philanthropic investments. As one of the first investors in the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD), Bank of America supported the venture to build a network of qualified housing counseling agencies, promoting their effort to become a HUD-certified housing counseling intermediary. National CAPACD members played a key role in the Alliance for Stabilizing our Communities, launched with funding from Bank of America, to help support community members struggling with foreclosure.
Empowering and supporting homebuyers
- HUD is committed to reducing barriers to quality housing and enhancing opportunities for home ownership for New Americans. Approximately 16 percent of all first-time homebuyers nationally are foreign-born. Over the past year, the HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) will hold stakeholder forums to expand awareness of its housing counseling program to new Americans. HUD will also explore the use of alternative credit score models and credit history in loan decisions to help new Americans with limited credit history access mortgages in an affordable manner.
Asset building in historically underserved and emerging communities
- As part of a $1 million grant, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation supports efforts to expand work in the asset building field to better serve low- and moderate-income AAPI communities nationwide. Building the capacity of organizations that are working directly in the community is an important mechanism to better serve AAPI communities, including peer-to-peer technical assistance programs and financial capability pilots to encourage asset building by AAPI youth in historically underserved and emerging communities; and increasing participation in Lending Circles that support organizations that work with populations in transition, such as refugees and survivors of domestic violence.
Building the capacity of AAPI organizations
- Over the past five years, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation has invested more than $50 million to increase the capacity of AAPI national and community-based organizations that provide a range of services, including housing counseling, legal and social services, culturally competent healthcare, language access, immigrant integration and civil rights, data disaggregation/collection, and U.S. Census outreach.