San Francisco mayor announces funding for AAPI crime victims, focusing on limited English speakers

San Francisco mayor announces funding for AAPI crime victims, focusing on limited English speakers

June 22, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

According to a press release from Breed’s office, nearly half of the budget—about $240,000—will be used for trauma recovery and clinical services in Cantonese for victims of serious violent crimes or the victims’ family members. It will also be used for training and technical assistance for community-based providers.

Because seniors have been most impacted in the city by targeted hate crimes, almost 60,000 will be allotted for senior escort services. These services will help “severely disabled folks” and others who need aid to get to medical appointments and social gatherings without fear.

According to a report from Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans 60 and older who experienced hate incidents reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who had not been targeted. That report follows others indicating the fear elderly Asian Americans have expressed in continuing their day-to-day activities due to the increase of violence against community members, Daily Kos reported. 

Additionally, studies have found not only has violence against the AAPI community increased by 339% in 2021 compared to the previous year but that Asian Americans are changing their daily routines out of fear of violence.

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San Francisco alone has experienced a 567% increase in reported hate crimes from 2020 to 2021, according to NBC News. Not to mention many of these high-profile attacks have not led to hate crime charges. San Francisco is not alone, a report released earlier this month found that of 233 incidents reported in New York City, 91 led to arrests and 41 were charged as hate crimes, while only seven led to guilty dispositions of hate crimes.

Christina Shea, the deputy chief and director of clinical services at Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS), told NBC News that while the funding is still in its preliminary stages, it is a step in the right direction.

“Usually mental health services are not even begun to be thought of by the victim, and there is definitely a lot of impact on mental health,” Shea said. “Most of the time, they don’t seek it, or they seek it and don’t get it because service is not there.”

Advocates and community experts have attributed lack of seeking services and reporting to language barriers and cultural stigma. According to the American Psychological Association, one in two Asian Americans experiencing mental illness will not seek help due to a language barrier. While advocates continue efforts to try to increase access to mental health services, groups like the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA), have released online reporting tools to allow people to report incidents of violence or harassment in 29 languages.

Advocates across the country are demanding more accountability and accessibility, leading lawmakers to focus their attention on not only preventing these crimes but funding for recovery.

But this isn’t the first time Breed announced funding for victim services for the AAPI community. Breed previously invested $3.2 million in victim services to create the Community Liaison Unit (CLU) within the San Francisco Police Department to ensure cultural and linguistic competency.

“As we’ve seen hate crimes play out in our city, our Police Department has responded to make arrests and hold people accountable,” Breed said in the news release. “And while accountability is critical in these cases, it also became clear in talking to many in the community that these victims also need mental health support, which can be difficult for those with language barriers.”

“Through this funding, we will be getting the support to those who need it, in the way that they are most likely to accept it—that is the key to a victim-centered system,” she added.

Breed’s announcement comes at a time when several incidents of violence have been reported in California this week alone. In the latest reported incident, police officials arrested a San Leandro man after he allegedly vandalized a neighbor’s home with anti-Asian graffiti.

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