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City to launch week of action to boost census response rate

Photo via Getty Images

The city will host a “week of action” beginning Monday, July 27 to boost New York City residents’ response rate to the 2020 Census. 

As of Tuesday, only 53% of New York City residents have responded to the census leaving the city about 10 points behind in its total response rate during the 2010 census. On Monday, the New York City Census Office will ask New Yorkers to share pictures and posts on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, call family members and to use the political campaign texting platform Hustle to send mass messages to friends to fill out the census and track their responses. 

The stakes are huge. Census results determine seats in the House of Representatives and potentially billions of dollars in federal funds for programs like Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, WIC and city infrastructure including hospitals. “In this period of COVID-19 we saw the strain on our public health system,” New York Director of the Census Bureau Jeff Behler said. “I can’t think of an easier way to support your local health care system than by filling out the census. “

Apart from social media blasts, the census office plans to do physical outreach on Wednesday, July, 20 and Saturday, August, 1, at subway stations, parks, playgrounds and businesses in neighborhoods with historically low response rates. The exact locations have yet to be decided on, a spokesperson from the city’s census office told amNewYork Metro. 

The city effort coincides with a state-wide push from to United States Census Bureau to up self-response rates in order to send as few workers as possible to knock on doors when the bureau begins following up on non-responders on August 11.  The Bureau might send out some census workers to stop by homes earlier in the month “just to get the ball rolling” and work through any kinks, said New York Director of the Census Bureau Jeff Behler. 

So far, the New York regional office has hired 35,000 people to drop by homes with tablets and smartphones to help New Yorkers that have not filled out the 2020 census to do so all while maintaining social distance, according to Jeff Behler. But the turnover rate among census workers is high so the number of staff hitting the pavement will ebb and flow. 

Census workers stopping by homes in mid-August have been instructed to input relevant census information into their devices from porches, stoops or hallways while wearing face masks and carrying hand sanitizer. But workers have also been instructed to keep social distance when they must enter a home to conduct a census survey due to privacy issues, Behler added. The bureau will not require workers to take temperature checks before shifts or to take viral or antibody tests after bouts of door knocking. 

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