Yes America, Poor Asians Do Exist!

med3_0Most folks think Asian Americans are wealthier than everybody else. This is understandable since the numbers show, in aggregate, that they have the highest income among racial groups in the United States. However, when you start digging into the numbers, you will discover that not all members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community are affluent.

A recent study by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) brings to fore AAPI communities in need and challenges the model minority myth that all Asians are rich.

The Spotlight on Asian American and Pacific Islander Poverty study provides a demographic profile of poor Asians whose numbers have increased dramatically. From 2007 to 2011, the number of AAPIs living below the federal poverty level increased by more than half a million. This 38% increase can be broken down into a 37% increase for Asian Americans in poverty and a 60% increase for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders in poverty. In comparison, the general poverty population grew by 27% during the same time period.

The largest single group living below the poverty line is non-Taiwanese Chinese at almost 450,000, followed by Asian Indian at over 245,000 and Vietnamese at 230,000. The group with the highest poverty rate is Hmong at 27%, followed by Bangladeshi at 21%, and Tongans at 19%.

More than half of all AAPI poor live in 10 metropolitan areas: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Honolulu, Seattle, San Jose, Houston, Sacramento, and Philadelphia. No other racial/ethnic poverty population is as concentrated in as few places. Approximately 30% of all AAPI poor live in only 3 metro areas: New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. An Urban Institute poverty mapping tool confirms National CAPACD’s findings and puts AAPI poverty in context.

So yes America, poor Asians do exist. And just like any other struggling group, they could use a leg up from the rest of us.

Are DC’s Metro Area Nonprofits a Match for Hard Times and Unrealistic Expectations?

The Census Bureau’s latest poverty numbers paint a dismal portrait of the lives of millions of Americans. Over 47 million of us are poor. That includes families of four subsisting on $22,314 a year and individuals struggling to survive on $30 a day on average for food, shelter, transportation, and other basics.

In Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, the average poverty rate from 2009-2010 is 13.3 percent, slightly below the national rate partly because average poverty rates in Maryland (10.2) and Virginia (10.7) are lower. The District of Columbia’s average poverty rate is far higher — 18.9 percent.

Will hard times for poor Americans change anytime soon? Probably not with the unemployment rate hovering at 9.1 percent and projected to remain well above 8 percent in the next couple of years.

The safety net most of us count on also continues to unravel. Federal, state, and local budgets are still shrinking, which leads to more service cuts that disproportionately impact the most vulnerable, including the estimated 1.5 million poor people residing in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

The District of Columbia has been able to address a projected shortfall in FY2012 with spending reductions, revenue increases, and government staff reductions but it now has less funding for most of its services. Maryland foresees a $1.4 billion deficit in FY2012 while Virginia anticipates a $2 billion gap in FY2012.

Needy families and individuals are turning to nonprofits more than ever, and some believe that this is how it should be. The onus of helping struggling citizens ought, they say, to be on charities and not governments.

But do nonprofits have the wherewithal to save the day? Some 1,358 registered nonprofits in DC, Maryland, and Virginia provide basic services to those living in poverty. Among them are organizations that provide multiple services and agencies that meet more particular needs through, say, food banks and pantries, employment counselors, and community health clinics.

Seventy-seven percent of these nonprofits are general human service providers whose combined revenue totals about $1 billion. Ten percent run employment programs with 24 percent of the total revenue and nine percent offer health services with 20 percent of total revenue. Only 48 of registered nonprofits (or 4 percent of the total) provide food.

Support Nonprofits in D.C, Maryland and Virginia

Support Nonprofits in D.C. Metro

One in four nonprofits are located in the District, home to only 7 percent of the metro area’s poor. Maryland, which has 38 percent of the area’s poor, houses 35 percent of support nonprofits but has only 24 percent of the total revenue. Virginia, which has 55 percent of the region’s poor, claims 40 percent of the charities but 51 percent of total revenue.

Distribution of Nonprofits in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Distribution of Nonprofits in D.C. MetroThe metro area’s nonprofits will be saddled with increased demand from poor families and individuals along with many others in temporary straits and not counted among those living in poverty.  Meanwhile, they can expect tighter budgets as revenue from government contracts and grants shrink. Clearly, major fundraising challenges lie ahead.

The 2010 Nonprofit Fundraising Survey reports that only about four in ten charities (43 percent) said philanthropic contributions in 2010 topped their 2009 level. Almost a quarter (24 percent) saw them plateau while a third (33 percent) experienced declines.

The survey packed other sobering news on the basic services front. Human service nonprofits registered had the fewest gains in 2010, with just 38 percent enjoying any funding increases. Nearly as many (36 percent) reported drops, and the rest (26 percent) a flat line.  And small nonprofits lost more ground than larger groups.

As millions of Americans struggle amid sustained unemployment and other economic woes, nonprofits that are increasingly under financial pressure themselves are expected to keep the safety net together. Governments need to step up — if not through more funding, through policies that make it easier for charities  to provide for citizens in need. Large foundations and the ultra- wealthy can also afford to be a bit more generous considering what’s at stake.

Originally posted on Urban Institute MetroTrends Blog, September 23, 2011.

Why Latinos Are Not Into Obama

President Barack Obama Approval Ratings by Race (Gallup)

President Barack Obama Approval Ratings by Race. (via Gallup)

The president has been calling on Latinos and he’s learning that they’re just not that into him.

Gallup’s latest polls show President Obama getting his lowest monthly job rating since taking office. Only four in ten approve of his job performance. The polls also reveal a precipitous decline in his approval among Latinos, a bad omen for Mr. Obama and his party who rely heavily on the community for votes. Just last January, 60 percent of Latinos said Mr. Obama was doing a fine job. Now, less than half – 48 percent – assess his performance favorably.

This should not come as a surprise for the man who once promised si se puede!

He has not delivered on his promise to reform the immigration system and comprehensive reform was not made a legislative priority. The President could not even make headway with the DREAM Act, one of the least toxic immigration initiatives. His administration is on track to deport more unauthorized immigrants during his first term than either of George W. Bush’s two terms. The desperation on the administration’s part to prove its law enforcement bona fides to conservatives has allowed immigration opponents to frame the debate.

It’s disappointing.

The tough economic times has not done Mr. Obama any favors either. Latinos, like most of us, are hurting, but they are hurting much more. The unemployment rate among Latinos is 11.3 percent, two points higher than whites. The poverty rate for Latinos in 2010 is 26.6 percent, 15.5 points higher than the national average and 16.6 points higher than whites. The median household wealth among Latinos plummeted 60 percent from 2005 to 2009; it only fell 16 percent among white households whose household wealth is 18 times that of their Latino neighbors.

No doubt the president and his party will keep on calling, meeting with Latino leaders, promising they still can and will deliver, but how can they really convince anybody considering their track record? Anything they say rings hollow and it is too late to do anything to change minds already made.

Republicans have also been calling, but Latinos hear loud and clear the anti-immigrant rhetoric that drowns any GOP offers to the Latino community.

The bad news for the president and both parties is that many Latinos will  sit 2012 out.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, September 20, 2011. Reposted on WNYC It’s a Free Country, September 23, 2011.

Summer Respite for Kids from Migrant Families

July 29, 2011; Source: Tampa Bay Online | A handful of children from migrant families have been able to enjoy a great American tradition: attending summer camp. Four churches banded together to give more than 100 youngsters the opportunity to enroll in a church-sponsored day camp in Dover, Florida. The children are treated to meals, games, and, of course, some bible study.

Hal Stinespring, pastor of a Georgia congregation, said, “It’s about the gospel. It’s bringing communities together and giving kids the chance to interact with one another regardless of where they are from, what their financial circumstances [are], or what race they may be.”

The National Center for Farmworker Health reports that there are more than three million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States. Close to 10 percent of the laborers and their families are based in the Sunshine State. Florida, along with Texas and California, is one of the top three sending states for migrants – that is, states these itinerant workers call home. Farmworkers fan out to where crops need to be harvested, and return once the season is over. Workers usually travel alone, leaving their families behind – particularly those with school-age children.

Children from migrant families have lives that are vastly different from those of their peers. Poverty regularly denies them the activities and luxuries most American kids take for granted. This camp not only brings communities together, it provides these youngsters with a chance to be just like everyone else – if only for the summer.

Originally posted on Nonprofit Quarterly, Nonprofit Newswire, July 31, 2011.