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Editorial | Undercounting New York City in 2020 Census could cause more harm following COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged New York City’s population and left its economy devastated. The public health crisis also blindsided the city’s unprecedented $40million organizing initiative to ensure a complete and accurate count of all residents in the Census 2020 that empowered 157 community-based organizations to engage in historically undercounted communities. Just weeks after the count got underway, the coronavirus emergency struck the city making it too dangerous to perform outreach and as a result, after four months nearly half of all New York City residents have failed to complete their census forms.

So far, more than 62% of households across the country have self-responded to the census, but here in New York City response rate is under 54%.

Now, with less than 100 days remaining, officials at every level of government are mobilizing this week and next in an all-out push to educate the populace on the importance of being counted.

The COVID-19 pandemic left the city’s economy in shambles. An undercount in the 2020 Census would compound the situation for the next decade.

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.

For every 1% of the population missed in the 2020 Census, the city could lose nearly $7.3 million in federal funding for public education. With the next census ten years away, that means roughly $70 million could be deprived to the city’s public schools.

“We need to ensure every New Yorker gets counted now,” NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin said. “Because nobody knows your own household better than you do, don’t wait until there’s a knock on your door, self-respond online now in just a few minutes to make sure you’re getting your fair share of the money, power, and respect that the census brings to all of us.”

The census consists of just 10 questions and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.  By law, all census responses are strictly confidential and cannot be shared with anyone – not with immigration authorities, tax authorities, the police, landlords, or even the City of New York.

There are no questions about immigration, citizenship, income, criminal history, taxes, or Social Security information. Visit online at my2020census.gov or call by phone at 844-330-2020 and be counted today.

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