City Council Passes Three Key Data Equity Bills

Social service agencies to improve data collection for diverse, multiracial, and LGBTQ New Yorkers

New York, NY – On October 13, 2016, the New York City Council voted and passed three bills into law that will require social service agencies to improve demographic data and better serve the City’s diverse communities. The bills, Intros 251-A, 551-A, and 552-A, were sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm and Council Member Margaret Chin.

Intro 251-A will require the Department of Social Services, the Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department for the Aging, the Department of Youth and Community Development, and the Department of Education to allow individuals filling out demographic forms to select from the top 30 largest ancestry groups and languages spoken in New York city based on the U.S. Census Bureau, with an option to write in a response. Intro 551-A will allow for multiracial New Yorkers to select more than one option on these forms. Intro 552-A will require demographic forms to contain questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Data will be publicly available, and implementation will include training in order to ensure that data is collected in a sensitive and respectful manner. Together these bills share a similar goal of ensuring that the City collects more accurate demographic data that reflects the diversity of NYC. Coalition for Asian American Children and Families Interim Executive Director, Henrietta Ho-Asjoe, issued the following statement:

“The Asian Pacific American community is the fastest growing community in New York City. Yet little is known about the over 40 different ethnic groups that comprises the APA population and the needs of our diverse communities. We know from our members that services and resources are not adequately allocated to meet the growing demand of APA communities because little data is available.

For too long, when city agencies issue reports, APAs are either not mentioned, categorized simply as ‘Asian,’ ‘Asian/Pacific Islander,’ or ‘Other.’ This aggregated approach renders the different APA ethnic communities invisible and masks the unique social, educational, and economic difficulties in our communities.

The passage of Intros 251-A, 551-A, and 552-A is an important first step, and we look forward to Mayor de Blasio signing these important bills into law. In particular, Intro 251-A will allow us to identify and address disparities that were previously invisible. This opens up new doors in the way that we are able to serve our community. However, we hope that this is just the beginning. More work needs to be done systemically so that small and emerging APA communities will be counted. We will continue to advocate for data that better reflects the diverse experiences and real challenges facing New Yorkers. We thank the City Council for recognizing this need within Asian Pacific American, LGBTQ, and multi-racial communities.”

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