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Quarter 3 2021, Volume 9 Issue 3

National CAPACD Highlights Role of Culturally Competent Housing Counseling for Low-Income AAPI Households

The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), a HUD-approved housing counseling Intermediary focused on serving low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) households, has participated in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program since 2010. The Intermediary oversees a network of 14 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.

In March, National CAPACD, in partnership with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, jointly released Crisis to Impact: Reflecting on a Decade of Housing Counseling Services in Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities. The research examines the state of housing for low-income AAPIs since the Great Recession in seven high-cost housing markets. The report offers valuable insights on how housing counseling services can help address the anticipated needs of low-income communities of color resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seema Agnani, Executive Director of National CAPACD stated, “In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the true value and critical need for housing services couldn't be clearer. Once again, communities of color are bearing the economic burden caused by the pandemic. AAPIs are among those that face what can seem like insurmountable challenges – living in unstable housing long before the pandemic to having nowhere to turn for accurate information on how to access relief. The report confirms the critical role National CAPACD's network plays in AAPI communities. Housing counselors that come from these communities and have the language capacity and trust of the community will be critical for an equitable recovery.”

The report utilizes Home Mortgage Disclosure Act lending data and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data to uncover the challenges and barriers faced by AAPI homeowners and renters. While the study was conducted before the COVID-19 national emergency, the report's findings are increasingly relevant as the industry responds to the housing needs of communities during the pandemic. The study also has relevance as the income inequality between Asian Americans and other groups is rising.

Crisis to Impact shows that pre-pandemic, one in four AAPIs paid more than half of their income towards housing costs compared to whites, placing many of them in difficult financial situations. Asian and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (NHOPI) borrowers within the study areas were also more likely than white households to take out mortgages costing four to five times more than their household incomes. The research illustrated the extent to which AAPI households are severely cost burdened due to living in some of the nation’s most expensive housing markets.

Crisis to Impact also found that National CAPACD’s HUD-approved housing counseling agencies are over six times more likely to serve AAPIs than other HUD-approved agencies. In some areas, they are the only HUD-approved agency serving AAPIs. National CAPACD’s network of HUD-approved agencies are also more likely to serve the most financially vulnerable – their clients are nearly five times as likely to be limited English proficient and more likely to be very low income (i.e., at or below 50% of area median income).

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Brian Kim, Housing Program Manager at National CAPACD, stated, “We believe the best housing counseling services come directly from community-based organizations that are AAPI-led, serve AAPI communities, and possess the cultural and linguistic competency to serve AAPI households. Our agencies offer translation and interpretation services, which means they are taking more time to serve their clients and explain complicated issues in-language. Our network provides housing counseling in more than 30 AAPI languages.”

Additionally, during this pandemic, National CAPACD’s housing counseling agencies have stepped in to fill gaps in local and federal response to ensure that low-income AAPIs, renters in particular, have access to critical relief and recovery information such as in-language information about the federal eviction moratorium.