Our America: The Disproportionate Impact of Poverty on New York’s Asian American Community

NEW YORK – From the “Crazy Rich Asians” to the myth of the model minority, there is a stereotype that all Asian Americans do very well financially.

But Asian Americans have some of the highest poverty rates in all of New York City, where nearly one in four Asian Americans live below the poverty line.

This model myth of the minority diverts essential funding from these communities, forcing some like Sang Ki Chun to take drastic measures just to survive.

VIDEO: Watch the trailer for “Our America: Asian Voices”

Every morning, he takes the bus from New York to the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The trip takes two hours each way, and he is one of the countless Asian American seniors who make the trip daily.

They don’t do it to gamble – they do it because when they get off the bus, the casino gives them a $ 45 credit. They sell it for $ 38 to another passenger who will use it to play, pocketing $ 18 each day after deducting the price of the bus.

There are a dozen buses that depart daily for the Sands Casino, almost always full to capacity. On each bus, more than half of the passengers do what Chun does. This means that every day, more than 300 to 400 seniors take the bus for four hours in both directions and spend an additional five hours in this waiting room for the next trip home.

Some of them are homeless and all of them live below the poverty line.

“This story of the people struggling is not really being told,” said Ron Kim, member of the New York State Assembly, who fought to raise awareness.

According to the city’s most recent measurement, Asian Americans in New York City have some of the highest levels of poverty among any ethnic group, at more than one in five people.

Figures for 2019 are not yet available. Imagine what the numbers for 2020 will look like.

“They don’t want to come forward and admit, ‘I’m in a situation where I need a certain need. “It’s a cultural barrier,” Kim said.

Advocates say part of the problem is that poverty in the community is often invisible.

“These are the hidden homeless,” explained Chris Kui with Asian Americans for Equality. “They double and triple, living in these cabins they share with 10 people in a one-bedroom apartment, for example.”

In the meantime, countless old people like Chun will continue to take these buses.

The question is, will anyone care?

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