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Asian American youth battle with elders over homeless

Asian American youth in the wealthy city of Arcadia in Southern California are clashing with the older generation over plans to build housing for homeless in the wealthy city.

The city is considering a plan to build 15-20 so called tiny homes, a home typically under 600 square feet, to shelter the unhoused.

“When we see the homeless people, we don’t feel safe,” said resident Michelle Wu, who opposed the plan along with a dozen other protesters, reported LAist. “You know, those homeless people have mental problems. They have, like, alcohol, drug problems.”

“Maybe it’s a generational thing,” said 17-year-old Becky Chen to News Nation USA. “But I feel like we’ve done our homework, and so many people against tiny homes haven’t.”

The homeless population in the city of 58,000 is estimated at just over 100 people. The tiny homes plan would house 30 of them.

Those opposed to the plan have held two protests outside a city council person’s home as well as city hall. They have been described as mostly Asian Americans. 60% of the population in the city is Asian.

Sumie Okazaki, a psychology professor at New York University, said she’s not surprised at the generational divide. She told the California News Times elderly Asian immigrants and Asian Americans believe in meritocracy and see hard work as a path to success. She says they view homeless as “comparable to their abilities.”

Younger Asian Americans see homelessness as a result of racism and other economic factors.

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