Asian Americans face credit and language barriers to economic growth, says report at San Gabriel AREAA gathering

Article Source: SGV Tribune
Original Post Date: July 1, 2019

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) speaks on her experiences in Congress and her work representing Asian Americans on Friday, June 29. (Staff photo by Stephanie Lai, San Gabriel Valley Tribune/SCNG)

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) speaks on her experiences in Congress and her work representing Asian Americans on Friday, June 29.

The path to home ownership isn’t necessarily easy for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in San Gabriel Valley, Realtors learned at the 2019 State of Asian America.

Dozens gathered at the Asian Youth Center in San Gabriel on Friday to hear the findings of a report from Asian American Real Estate Association about their community’s economic impact and current demographics.

Making up 7% of the U.S. population and 28% of San Gabriel Valley, the Asian American community is the fastest growing demographic in the nation, according to the report.

These families’ median household income is $20,000 more the national average, AREAA National President Tom Truong said at the conference.

The Asian American/Pacific Islander buying power nationwide is nearly $1 trillion as of 2018, and anticipated to reach $1.3 trillion by 2022, according to the report.

In addition, more than 87% of all Asian Americans high schoolers enroll in college and 21% go on to pursue advanced degrees, Truong said.

But not all outcomes are ideal. Panelist Hope Atuel, AAREA national executive director, said the report also found that 17% of Asian Americans are living below the poverty line, which is 5% higher than the national average.

“This breaks the model-minority model,” Atuel said in an interview. “There’s a myth that we’re all successful and buy in cash, but this gives the message that we don’t need any help.”

According to her organization’s report, the Asian American/Pacific Islander community applies for fewer loans compared to white Americans because they are debt-averse, Atuel said.

The result, Truong said, is that they often have thin credit files — much like his own mother who feared banks after losing access to their savings in 1974’s fall of Saigon.

“The banks wouldn’t let her get her take her money out because they were shut down, so this culture teaches us not to trust the bank system,” Truong said. “But we need to change that,. We need to teach our AAPI community here that banks are safe and that there is insurance.”

Language also deters Asian American/Pacific Islander from home ownership because a significant number of immigrants are not proficient in English, Congresswoman Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, said.

“It’s hard enough for mainstream Americans to really understand what are in the mortgage documents, but to have a language barrier as well is quite an obstacle to overcome,” Chu said.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is currently working to expand its website to accommodate Asian languages, Atuel said. This year, the agency included a Chinese

San Diego-based AAREA has released its “state of” report annually since 2016 to educate Realtors about their clientele and help big companies and banks better serve the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, Atuel said.

This year’s report included additional research on regional distributions, notably migration shifts to regions with more affordable housing, such as Texas and other parts of the South. The report also takes note of Asian American consumer habits, global markets and loan data.

With these findings in mind, the AREAA emphasized offering alternative credit forms and using technology to reduce language barriers to help Asian American/Pacific Islander communities understand the home buying process.