Series of events in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including a “Census Walk for NYC”, sound the alarm that there are only 12 days to avoid a census undercount, which would mean billions in lost funding and the loss of congressional seats, severely weakening New York City’s COVID-19 recovery
Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library Plaza unveiled a new series of “Get Out the Count” banners to drive self-response in Brooklyn, which is currently the borough with the lowest self-response rate
NEW YORK_____With President Trump cutting the census count by one month to depress responses among Black, Brown, and immigrant communities, the multi-borough “Countdown to our Future” kicks off a two-week campaign to increase self-response rates and encourage New Yorkers to respond to door-to-door enumerators in New York City. City officials, elected officials, and major citywide community advocates and leaders gathered in Manhattan and Brooklyn on Wednesday, September 16, to mobilize New Yorkers to obtain a complete census count. On September 17, Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray, and NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin knocked doors in Canarsie to encourage New Yorkers to fill out the census.
“New Yorkers have been making extraordinary efforts to stand up for their communities, beat back unconstitutional orders, and do their part to help make sure we get our fair share,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Now, with 12 days to go until the Census deadline, we need all hands on deck to make this final push to make every New Yorker count.”
At noon on September 16, City officials held a Manhattan kick-off at Foley Square. Then a group of advocates held a Census Walk for NYC, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. At 3:15 p.m. on September 16, local leaders came together at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch to issue a call to action to the Borough of Brooklyn, which currently has the lowest census self-response rates among the five Boroughs. At the Brooklyn-based press conference, Brooklyn Public Library unveiled new “Get Out the Count” banners across the facade of the Central Library Plaza, to give the importance of the 2020 Census visibility in a key area of Brooklyn, which currently has a self-response rate of 56.9%. Meanwhile, elected officials in the Bronx hosted a concurrent, women-led event, with a census caravan parading throughout the borough.
The “Census Kick-Off to Our Future” was headlined and co-hosted by government and community partners, namely NYC Census 2020, the City’s census office, in coordination with the office’s Citywide Partners, a network of 15 of the city’s most trusted and effective advocacy, organizing, and service delivery organizations.
NYC Census 2020 (Mayor’s Office of the Census)
NYC City Council
ABNY (Association for a Better New York)
New York Counts 2020 Coalition
United Way of New York City
New York City Central Labor Council
Asian-American Federation; Asian Americans for Equality; Brooklyn NAACP; Center for Law & Social Justice at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College; Chinese-American Planning Council; Community Resource Exchange; FPWA; Hester Street; Hispanic Federation; Make the Road-New York; New York Immigration Coalition; and NALEO Educational Fund
“The Census offers a powerful opportunity for New Yorkers to define who counts in this country. The Census team has shown that, even in the midst of a global pandemic, working in close partnership with community based organizations is key to ensuring all New Yorkers are counted,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “With two weeks left, we must continue to mobilize like never before to get New York counted in the 2020 Census.”
“Every New Yorker needs to encourage their neighbors, friends, and family to take 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions that will impact the next 10 years in our city,” said Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020 and Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel, NYC Law Department. “We have cut the gap between the city’s self response rate to 6 percentage points, versus 14 in 2010, but now we need to sprint to the finish line and need every New Yorker to stand up and be counted.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities of color the hardest, particularly my immigrant neighbors in Sunset Park. To compound this crisis, Trump has cut short the time in which our communities can respond to the Census. It is this urgent reality that demands a ‘All Hands on Deck’ approach to ensuring all New Yorkers are counted and secure our congressional representation and, most importantly, the federal funding we deserve. We must secure every dollar to ensure we pay for our hospitals, our schools, our infrastructure. I am proud to partner with NYC Census to make the final push to get Brooklyn counted, to make all our immigrant neighbors counted,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, co-chair of the New York City Council Census Task Force.
“We have two weeks left to make Brooklyn and New York City count. The stakes could not be higher. An undercount will mean a loss of political representation and federal resources at a time when we can least afford it. I urge those who have not yet filled out their census forms to do so as soon as possible. It is an act of civic altruism to your neighbors and your community,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“This is crunch time for our communities to get counted. I’m so glad the City is stepping up to get us across the September 30 finish line as strong as possible. This 2020 Census is a do or die moment for us in terms of making sure we get the federal resources we deserve as we recover from COVID-19 in the coming decade,” said State Senator Robert Jackson. I urge all New Yorkers who are able to volunteer during this final push to go to nyc.gov/GOTC and sign up. I’ll be out on the streets as often as possible myself. Let’s Get Out the Census!”
“As we are within the final two weeks of the 2020 Census deadline, I applaud the Mayor de Blasio’s ‘Countdown to our Future’ initiative to increase self-response rates and door-to-door enumerator response in New York City,” said State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. “It has been reported that certain ZIP codes in Senate District 19 have had the lowest census response rate not only in Brooklyn, or New York, but the entire United States. This alarming statistic will jeopardize billions of dollars in needed federal funding for services in a district that has already been hit hard from the COVID-19 pandemic and further undercut resources for the next decade with the loss of congressional seats resulting from this population undercount,” she added.
“I fully support the City’s effort to encourage more people to fill out the census. Ensuring a more accurate count is so important because census numbers will decide how precious federal funds will be allocated annually for programs and services including education, housing, community development, healthcare, job training and services for the elderly,” said State Senator James Sanders, Jr. “The more people who participate in the 2020 Census, the better our communities will be and the more equitable federal dollars will be distributed.”
“The 2020 Census is about taking back our power and using it to uplift every single member of the Bronx. The Trump administration is trying to weaponize the 2020 Census for its own political gain and scare our communities out of participating, but we’re here today to say that we won’t let them erase us. Filling out the Census is every New Yorker’s civic duty – it is a way to stand up for yourself and your neighbors, and to use your voice to demand change,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
“Today is September 16th — meaning we have exactly two weeks left to increase self-response for New Yorkers,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. “As we all know, the census provides data that will impact our communities for the next decade. It determines how many seats New York gets in Congress; how more than $675 billion in federal funds is allocated — including funding for our schools, hospitals, senior centers, public transportation, roads, and bridges. At our current response levels, we risk losing two Congressional seats, as well as significant funding for services New Yorkers rely on every day. Our participation in the census ensures that our voices are heard and our concerns are being addressed. I encourage all New Yorkers to fill out the census to make sure that New York receives our fair share.”
“It’s critical for every New Yorker to be counted in the 2020 Census. It’s the only way to ensure that we get the federal funding we need to provide essential public services, recover from COVID-19, and help reduce the inequality that the pandemic has only made worse. Ten minutes, ten questions – that’s all it takes!” said Assemblymember Richard Gottfried of Manhattan.
Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “New York City has gone through a tough time recently, but our frontline workers made sure they were there for us. Now it’s our turn to show up for them by getting a complete count in the 2020 Census. Over these next two weeks, it is imperative that each and every New Yorker steps up to not only complete their census – but also to talk to their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family about completing the census too. By ensuring a complete count, we will ensure that our nurses and teachers and all frontline workers get their fair share of federal resources in New York.”
“We are running out of time to ensure New Yorkers are fairly counted in the 2020 Census. With so much on the line for the future of our City and State, I appreciate the Mayor deploying resources to ensure we get every New Yorker counted so we can all be represented in Congress and receive the federal funding we badly need to rebuild New York. New Yorkers need to fill out the census,” said Assemblymember Epstein.
“Each census response means thousands of dollars in federal funding for our communities. By completing the census, New Yorkers can ensure that we get the support and respect that New York deserves,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.
“The census is a building block of our city. Everybody must get counted if New York is to receive the proper number of congressional districts and billions of dollars in federal funding to repair our roads, build our schools, supply our hospitals, feed the hungry, serve our seniors and make New York a better city. Please make sure to respond to the census today,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “The 10 minutes it takes to reply will pay off in so many ways over 10 years. And ask your friends, neighbors and relatives to respond. So much depends on an accurate census. There are no second chances after the count ends on September 30. Make yourself count today!”
“New York, we know that we need these resources to provide essential services for our communities. We also know that the powers that be are not making this an easy process. We need everyone to know how essential the census is for the next 10 years for our communities’ vitality,” said Assemblymember Walker. “These are funds that we are entitled to. All we have to do is take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions that will provide resources for the next 10 years. We all have a responsibility to make sure we get our fair share of funds to our respective neighborhoods. It is not just about you it is about all of us moving our communities forward together. Get Counted!”
The census determines the equitable distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funds annually for education, healthcare, housing, transportation, infrastructure, and more, in addition to determining the number of seats each state is allotted in the House of Representatives, as well as the shape and size of local and state legislative districts.
New York City continues to close the gap between the city and the nation in terms of census self-response rates. As of September 17, New York City’s self-response rate is 59.9%, and the nation’s is 66%. In 2010, there was approximately a 14-percentage-point gap between New York City’s census self-response rate and the nation’s. Currently, in 2020, there is a gap of just over six percentage points. A recent study found that New York City’s self-response rate increased the most out of any other city in the United States between May 4, 2020, and August 18, 2020.
In addition, while the self-response rates in several majority-Black neighborhoods in New York City are behind the citywide average, many such neighborhoods have registered significant improvements in their rates in 2020 as compared to their rates in 2010. In the last census, many of these neighborhoods, from The Bronx to Queens to Brooklyn, had census self-response rates that were 10 or more percentage points behind the citywide average, meaning that these communities have been missing out on millions of dollars for critical services and the full political representation they are entitled to, from City Hall to the halls of Congress. This year, however, the historically Black neighborhoods of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (64.6%), Flatbush (63.5%), and Bedford-Stuyvesant (52.7%) now have higher self-response rates than they did in 2010. The same is true for Cambria Heights (65.9%) and St. Albans (57.5%) in Queens, and Baychester (54.2%) in The Bronx. In addition, there are certain heavily Black neighborhoods, such as Co-op City in The Bronx (74.8%) and Starrett City in Brooklyn (70.5%), that this year far outpace the citywide average (59.9%).
While these figures do represent a significant amount of successful education, organization, and mobilization, much more work needs to be done to ensure that these, and indeed all, our neighborhoods receive their fair share of $1.5 trillion in federal funds every year and does not lose what could be up to two congressional seats.
To help raise response rates in the neighborhoods facing the most severe undercounts, NYC Census 2020 has also been tapping into neighborhood pride to help move the needle. The new “Census Subway Series” has set up weekly competitions between a pair of NYC neighborhoods to see who can raise their response rates the most in those days, and the friendly competition has already delivered strong results. The first matchup between Jamaica, Queens against Canarsie, Brooklyn saw Jamaica raise its response rate by 0.95% and Canarsie by 0.7%. In the second matchup between Midwood, Brooklyn with Upper East Side, Manhattan, Midwood emerged victorious with an increase of 1.9% compared to the Upper East Side’s 1.4%. And most recently, Brownsville, Brooklyn triumphed over Wakefield, The Bronx, with an increase of 0.63%, or an estimated additional 184 households counted. For the fourth week of the Census Subway Series, Throgs Neck, The Bronx (current self-response rate: 54.9%) is competing against Corona, Queens (current self-response rate: 55.7%).
“It is essential to the rebuilding of our City that New Yorkers understand that it is not too late to get counted in the 2020 Census,” said Melva M. Miller, CEO of the Association For a Better New York (ABNY). “ The pandemic severely impacted communities across our region, lowering the self-response rate and disrupting our ability to be counted. Our economic recovery will be sustained through the billions of federal dollars that come from the 2020 Census enumeration so it’s imperative that we do all that we can in the next 14 days to get an accurate Count.”
“As New York looks to rebuild from the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that one way out of this is to make sure every person is counted, so that we can get our fair share of resources, representation and respect!” said Meeta Anand, who serves as the Facilitator and Convenor of NY Counts 2020. “Above all, we need to make sure that our most vulnerable communities are counted to ensure that New York’s inequities do not worsen in the next decade and beyond. Since the Census has commenced, New York State has climbed out of being number 42 in the nation’s response rates, to being number 32. But that is not good enough. New Yorkers pride ourselves on our toughness. We can prove how tough we are by ensuring everyone of us is counted!”
“If you’re not counted in the Census, then you’re not being fully counted in our democracy. Census data helps allocate critical federal funding for health care, education and housing and without a complete count our country cannot fulfill its obligation to invest in each and every citizen in a fair manner,” said Sheena Wright, President and CEO of the United Way of New York City. “Every ten years, the Census sets the tone for how our nonprofits and community-based organizations strategize to help our neighborhoods and fill in the gaps when needed. With just two weeks left to go for the 2020 Census, let’s ensure that New York City’s communities are represented accurately and equitably.”
“More than a third of our city has yet to be counted and we need all hands on deck urgently to get all New Yorkers to fill out the Census. The COVID pandemic and the current administration have threatened the accuracy and fairness of the Census as never before, but we will keep fighting until the last day to get every New Yorker counted and make the voices of the most vulnerable and marginalized among us heard. We count and we have to make sure our city and our communities get the dollars and the representation we deserve,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director, Asian American Federation.
“As the pandemic ravaged our immigrant communities these past few months, many of the people we serve couldn’t always prioritize the 2020 Census” said Thomas Yu and Jennifer Sun, co-executive directors of Asian Americans for Equality. “But if we want to change our communities for the better, addressing the stark inequalities COVID-19 exposed, nothing could be more important than a complete count. We urge everyone to fill out their census questionnaire before it is too late to make sure our communities count in the next 10 years.”
“This is an emergency. Brooklyn not only stands to lose millions of dollars in resources but we also face the loss of political representation at decision making tables on the city, state and federal level. While the current administration is trying to undermine our efforts, we need to fight back and take action. The NAACP has joined other civil right organizations in taking this administration to court to extend the census count but we still have work to do here on the ground. This emergency requires us to show up and count our community so that we receive our fair share,” said L. Joy Williams, President of Brooklyn NAACP.
“This is the most important Census count of our lifetimes. We are up against a hostile administration that has signaled that it doesn’t want people of color and vulnerable communities to be counted–instead, the Census has been weaponized to prop up an image of America that no longer exists. It’s essential that we fight for our fair share of federal money and power by completing the Census. An undercount will jeopardize our neighborhoods, our children, our elders and our political representation for the next decade. It’s our collective responsibility to ensure an accurate count. Urge your friends and families, neighbors and church members to complete the Census. Those 10 simple census questions will help determine the course of our lives for the next 10 years,” said Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted long-standing systemic barriers and disparities for communities of color and low-income, immigrant, and Asian American and Pacific Islander New Yorkers, making the call for a complete Census count in these final weeks more urgent than ever before,” said Amy Torres, Director of Policy & Advocacy at the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC). “Regardless of age, housing, work, or immigration status, CPC urges every New Yorker to get counted. All responses are safe and confidential and our communities’ response rate is important. A complete count not only determines the policymaking decisions that direct resources toward a just recovery, it also determines our representation, funding and power in the decade ahead.”
“In this moment, we must reclaim the power of data to serve Black, Brown, Native and Immigrant communities – to shape the just and equitable city that we want, that we need, and that we must have. Census 2020 is key to our re-imagined world – free from neighborhood disinvestment and systemic racism. It is ours to be had. We all must be counted,” said Betsy MacLean, Co-Executive Director Hester Street.
“With only 15 days left in the 2020 Census, we are coming together in New York City to issue one clear message: Our communities cannot afford to have an undercount,” says Frankie Miranda, President of the Hispanic Federation. “The resources we need in Brooklyn, and every borough, to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build stronger neighborhoods is tied to a precise Census count. If you haven’t done your Census, please take 5-minutes to be counted and help your fellow New Yorkers.”
Antonio Alarcon, Civic Engagement Coordinator of Make the Road New York, issued the following statement on behalf of Make the Road NY organization’s over 24,000 members: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, our team has contacted over 100,000 community members and gotten over 9,000 confirmed census completions. This administration has tried repeatedly to silence us and to spread fear in our community, but we will continue to fight back to ensure that our communities are fully counted and that we receive the resources we deserve. As we approach the conclusion of the Census period, our team will continue to call and text community members to make sure everyone is counted and secure the resources we need for a brighter future.”
“Given the herculean task we will be required to undertake in reconstructing New York City after the devastation wrought by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic crisis, participation in the 2020 Census is especially critical for our hard hit Latino communities across the five boroughs,” said Juan Rosa, Northeast Director of Civic Engagement for NALEO Educational Fund. “The census determines the allocation of billions of federal dollars for New York’s schools, roads, and hospitals, while remaining the most fundamental aspect of American Democracy. We must ensure fair and accurate representation of every New Yorker.”
“Today, we are marching for one simple reason; we are in crunch time. New York’s future depends on all New Yorkers—and all immigrants—filling out the Census. Thankfully, despite Trump’s repeated attempts to undercount our communities, immigrant New Yorkers are doing their part. But the work is far from over,” said Murad Awawdeh, Interim Co-Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “The 2020 Census determines everything from our congressional representation to billions in federal dollars for New York’s schools, roads, hospitals, and more. Given the enormous task of rebuilding our state in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Yorkers cannot afford an undercount. NYIC is proud to join our allies in today’s show of force, and we plan on doing everything we can to assure immigrant communities that they can and must participate in the Census safely as required by law,” said Murad Awadeh, co-executive director, New York Immigration Coalition.
From September 21 – September 30, NYC Census 2020, elected officials, and partners are planning a week of activities citywide to mobilize New Yorkers to self-respond to the 2020 Census. Among other efforts, Walltime will also be donating free projection ad space across Manhattan to the city for the final two weeks until the census. New Yorkers can sign up to volunteer at nyc.gov/GOTC.
About NYC Census 2020
NYC Census 2020 is a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative established by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. The $40 million program is built on four pillars: (1) a $19 million community-based awards program, The New York City Complete Count Fund, empowering 157 community-based organizations to engage historically undercounted communities around the 2020 Census; (2) an in-house “Get Out the Count” field campaign supported by the smart use of cutting-edge data and organizing technology, and a volunteer organizing program to promote a complete count in each of the city’s 245 neighborhoods; (3) an innovative, multilingual, tailored messaging and marketing campaign, including a $3 million commitment to investing in community and ethnic media to reach every New York City community; as well as (4) an in-depth Agency and Partnerships engagement plan that seeks to leverage the power of the City’s 350,000-strong workforce and the city’s major institutions, including libraries, hospitals, faith-based communities, cultural institutions, higher educational institutions, and more, to communicate with New Yorkers about the critical importance of census participation. Through close partnerships with trusted leaders and organizations across the five boroughs, this unprecedented campaign represents the largest municipal investment in census organizing nationwide and will build an enduring structure that empowers New Yorkers to remain civically engaged.