Asthma advocacy stems from resident-driven research
By Mae Lee
Chinatown, located in New York City’s Lower Manhattan, is the city’s oldest Chinese community. Since the late 1800s, when the first Chinese immigrants arrived from Guangzhou, a province in southeastern China, Chinatown has been a destination for new immigrants. According to 2000 Census figures, nearly 60 percent of Chinatown residents are foreign-born.
While rich in history, Chinatown is economically poor: thirty-one percent of residents live below the poverty level. The community is also plagued by environmental problems such as poor air quality. The Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) was founded in 1977 to ally the different parts of our diverse community to address such issues. We envisioned an organization that ordinary people could join to improve the community's living and working conditions. Because many families lived in turn-of-thecentury tenements or public housing with substandard conditions, CPA first helped tenants to form associations and demand basic services like heat and hot water. Since then we have worked on a wide array of issues including immigrant rights, voter empowerment, housing and health, and worker rights.