AAFE released the following statement:

Asian Americans for Equality is concerned with the difficult fiscal choices that Congress and the White House will have to make by the end of the year that will significantly impact all Americans for years to come.

If a compromise on reducing the deficit is not reached, automatic across-the-board cuts (sequestration) will dramatically scale back federal domestic programs, threatening the social safety net for millions of American families. Further, a series of tax cuts is also scheduled to expire at the end of the year, threatening middle class families with an average annual tax increase of $2,000. These two components – steep spending cuts and abrupt tax hikes – would undermine our nation’s economic recovery while needlessly putting many struggling families at risk.

Failure to reach an agreement will only exacerbate the devastating losses in assets and family wealth that many Americans have already experienced throughout the economic downturn. From 2004 to 2009 — the height of the housing crisis — Asian Americans experienced a 54 percent decline in household wealth, largely due to foreclosures and lost property value. In addition, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) living in poverty increased by over 450,000 from 2007 to 2010, for an increase of over 30 percent for Asian Americans and 40 percent for Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders compared with 21.5 percent for the national population.

Reducing our deficit by making further cuts to social safety net programs without including additional revenues only worsens the financial and economic outlook for AANHPI families. In New York City, Asians represent over 13% of the overall population and are the fastest growing community in the city and the nation.

  • AANHPI communities are often concentrated in the most expensive housing markets in the country, with median gross rents significantly higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Across-the-board cuts would reduce the capacity of rental assistance programs like tenant-based housing vouchers, which help lower-income families stay in their homes. In New York, 222,794 families received housing vouchers, a rental assistance program, in 2012. In comparison, an estimated of 18,620 families in 2013 would lose their housing vouchers because of the sequestration. Potentially, these 18,620 families can lose their homes. Similarly, New York’s public housing funding would face $99,568,553 in cuts for 2013 compared to the 2012 funding level of $1,213,291,672—an 8.2 percent decrease.
  •  AANHPIs reside in many of the hardest hit metropolitan areas that suffered the highest rates of foreclosure. Budget cuts would reduce access to critical, in-language housing counseling services, increasing the risk of foreclosure, scams, and fraud for many immigrant communities. Cuts would also reduce available funding for community development finance programs like the Community Development Block Grant, Native Hawaiian Block Grant, and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, further exacerbating a severe shortage in affordable housing. The Community Development

Block Grant for New York in 2013 is looking at an estimated sequestration cut of $23,053,577 from the current funding $281,664,304 in 2012. The Home Investment Partnerships Program for New York would suffer as well, with an estimated cut of $8,236,359 under sequestration from the $100,863,556 funded in 2012.

  • Twenty million Americans remain unemployed, including many AANHPIs. According to projections by the Congressional Budget Office, failure to avert the fiscal cliff would result in a 9 percent increase in the national unemployment rate, putting at risk many AANHPI communities still suffering from high unemployment rates. Hmong, Laotian and Cambodian Americans will be hit especially hard, as the unemployment rate in these communities already hovers near 10 percent.

“Asian Americans for Equality agrees that a budget cut alone would not decrease our country’s deficit. What we need is a balanced approach that takes into account cuts already made to discretionary programs through the Budget Control Act of 2011,” said Christopher Kui, Executive Director of AAFE. “Safety net programs such as Medicaid and SNAP are a critical lifeline in the Asian communities we serve, and to see these services cut would not solve, but create even more agony among the low-income families, who are already affected by the economic crisis and Hurricane Sandy.”