A week after a coalition asked Mayor London Breed to set aside a nine-figure sum from her spending plan for Asian American community nonprofits, she came up with a counter-offer. But critics of the plan say it’s not enough.
Instead of $118 million for dozens of community groups represented by the API Council, Breed on Thursday pitched $500,000 to expand Cantonese-language services for Asian victims of crime. The proposed services come as misplaced blame for the Covid pandemic engendered anti-Asian sentiment in the city—hate crimes reported in San Francisco rose by 567% since 2020.
“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,” Breed said in a press release. “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.”
The proposal will allocate $240,000 toward trauma recovery clinical services in Cantonese for Asian victims of violent crimes and family members of homicide victims, $160,000 to expand community-based mental health services in Cantonese for victims of crime, and the remaining $59,000 will increase citywide senior escort services.
Others are less excited about the proposal, saying that the money could be better spent and only aids a portion of impacted residents.
“I’m so disappointed to see after all the anti-Asian attacks that the AAPI community has been through during this pandemic, including the tragic death of Mr. Vicha Ratanapakdee, a Thai American, that the only investment that our community received is just Cantonese-speaking victim services,” Supervisor Connie Chan told The Standard in an email. “We are not a monolithic community, we have diverse linguistic and cultural needs.”
Chan proposed a multimillion-dollar fund—which would come out of the city’s reserve— to assist AAPI nonprofits with construction projects and land acquisition.
According to API Council Director Cally Wong, mental health services for victims are essential but Breed’s proposal comes conveniently after the mayor cut funding toward API safety.
“I think it’s always good to fund mental health services, especially for API victims. It doesn’t correct the fact that the mayor is cutting $600,000 to victim wraparound services,” Wong said, “after she said there would be no cuts.”
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