Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, along with Assembly members Ed Braunstein and Nily Rozic, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Councilwoman Sandra Ung and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at AAF’s new office, located at 154-08 Northern Blvd., Suite 2G.
The Asian American Federation, which has had an office in Manhattan since 1989, is the largest umbrella leadership organization in New York that serves a diverse Asian American community that makes up the fastest growing population in the city, state and country. Opening a Queens office, in an area with a large and growing AAPI population, marks a meaningful step in the expansion of AAF and the growth of community-led support services for Asian New Yorkers.
“We are thrilled to be opening a physical location in Queens, allowing us to expand our outreach and support services to one of the most diverse places in the world,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of AAF. “As our community overcomes the challenges of the pandemic and the ongoing anti-Asian hate crisis, small businesses and community-based organizations remain the vital backbone of our community. We look forward to working even more closely with them and our elected officials in order to get the support the Asian community needs.”
With anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City on the rise, community-based organizations have been the city’s first responders, from taking calls from victims who are hesitant to report the incident, to providing walking partners and safety training.
AAF’s new office will extend the organization’s footprint from Manhattan to Queens and allow expanded on-the-ground support for individuals and businesses who rely on the services, support and programs that the organization and its members provide. AAF will expand its Small Business Support Program, which offers language accessibility and technical assistance to connect AAPI business owners with the resources needed to thrive.
Since March 2020, over 2,700 incidents of anti-Asian hate, including several murders, have been recorded in New York City by AAF, Stop AAPI Hate, NYPD and CCHR. However, the number of incidents may likely be much higher as these bias incidents are significantly underreported, according to AAF.
Systemic factors like high rates of poverty, limited English proficiency, lack of immigration status and the fact that 70% of Asian New Yorkers are immigrants deter reporting and reinforce inequities. Community-based organizations such as AAF have played a critical factor in navigating these challenges and helping ensure that NYC’s fast-growing AAPI community can prosper through the trying times of the last few years.
Kevin Kim, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, said the Asian American business community is an economic powerhouse for NYC, and that they’re committed to ensuring they have the tools they need to thrive and grow.
“The new Asian American Federation office in Flushing will help us to expand this critical partnership and extend our services even deeper into the community at a time when they need it most. I commend Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo for her tremendous work that has brought this essential resource to life,” Kim said.
While congratulating AAF on the opening of their new office, Queens lawmakers spoke about the challenges facing the AAPI community.
“So many in the Asian American community call our borough home and this new location will help the Asian American Federation do an even better job in fighting for Asian Americans living and working in our local neighborhoods,” Meng said. “From combating anti-Asian hate to assisting individuals and small businesses, the Asian American Federation’s work is crucial. They are on the ground and on the front lines, and I look forward to continuing to work with its outstanding team.”
Stavisky noted AAF’s “long record of providing research, advocacy and education services” to the Asian American community.
“Queens County is recognized for its diversity in so many areas — culture, customs, languages, religions — and AAF understands this,” Stavisky said. “I look toward working with Jo-Ann Yoo and her colleagues as we work to combat hate, promote economic development, help the impoverished and all of the issues important to everyone.”
Rozic said the new office will be a hub for “our community and will help residents get the services they deserve.”
According to Braunstein, AAF has provided “invaluable services, programs and support to Asian Americans and immigrant communities throughout NYC for 48 years,” and that local small businesses and residents will benefit greatly from the new office.
Ung, who represents the district, said she looks forward to working with AAF on everything from civic engagement to economic development to better serve its diverse Asian American communities.
“I am so thrilled to welcome the Asian American Federation to my district,” Ung said. “The valuable programs, services and support they have provided from their Manhattan office since 1989 will now be available right here in Queens, the borough with the highest Asian population in the city.”
Senator John Liu said, “AAF’s new headquarters will provide on-the-ground support services and community programming that will serve a critical need throughout Queens.”
Richards referred to AAF as an “outstanding organization” that has been a vitally important partner in their shared push to support AAPI families.
“The AAF’s new Queens office is a welcome addition to our borough and will better enable the federation to offer its valuable services to our community,” Richards said. “These services have never been as important as they are now, as we continue to face the scourge of anti-Asian hate that has impacted so many of our neighbors. We look forward to continuing to work with the AAF to combat this scourge and to further improve the quality of life of our borough’s AAPI residents.”