East Harlem Tries to Serve Huge Influx of Chinese Residents

East Harlem Tries to Serve Huge Influx of Chinese Residents

August 3, 2011 6:48am | By Jeff Mays, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito recruited recent college graduate Preston Tan to serve as her liaison to the Chinese community after noticing the number of Asian residents of the district is on the rise. Tan is translating for Tony who wants help with a housing issue. (DNAinfo/Jeff Mays)

HARLEM —Despite moving into East Harlem from Chinatown four years ago, Tony, a Chinese immigrant with limited English, still hopped on a train to Councilwoman Margaret Chin’s Lower East Side office whenever he had a housing problem.

“She knows English and Chinese because I’ve seen things from her office written in both,” Tony, 50, who declined to give his last name, said through a translator.

Chin recommended Tony reach out to his local city council representative, Melissa Mark-Viverito. She just hired Preston Tan as a liaison to the Chinese community after noticing a large increase in the number of Chinese residents in East Harlem.

Tan and another of Mark-Viverito’s aides invited Tony to the district office Tuesday for Mark-Viverito’s first ever office hours for her Chinese constituents. With Tan, 22, translating, they made several phone calls trying to get Tony the help he needed.

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