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Op-Ed: Your census questions answered

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By Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020 

Nearly 40% of New Yorkers have been counted in the 2020 Census, and we’ve heard some frequently asked questions along the way. Here’s answers to some of New Yorkers’ most commonly-asked Census questions. 

How do I get counted if I don’t have the unique Census ID from the Census Bureau?

No Census ID? No problem! All you need is your address. Go to my2020census.gov and click the link that says, “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.” You can also call to complete the form over the phone — no Census ID is needed.

Should I count the family/roommate that shares my apartment?

Yes, if they live in your home, you should count everyone living in your home, even if they’re not related.  

How do I get counted if I live in an illegal unit?

No matter your housing situation – whether you live in an illegal basement, or even if there are more people living in your unit than your lease allows — you can and should respond to the census; it is 100% safe. By law, the US Census Bureau cannot share your information with anyone – not immigration, not the police, and not even your landlord. Neither you nor your landlord can face any negative consequences as a result of completing the census.

Do I get counted even if I’m an immigrant?

Everyone counts, no matter who you are, where you’re from, or your immigration status. Citizen, immigrant, documented, undocumented — everybody has a right (and an obligation) to be counted. There are absolutely no questions about immigration or citizenship on the census.

What happens to my census information?

Census information is used for very important purposes. It helps the government distribute billions of dollars to states and cities, based on how many people live there, and it determines our political power at all levels of government. Census data is also used to make very important decisions every day, such as how many vaccines need to be ordered to protect you and your family. Your responses to the census are protected by federal law. By law, all your information is confidential, can’t be used against you, and can’t be shared with anyone — not your landlord, not even other government agencies.

How should people be counted if they’re staying away from their normal home because of COVID-19?

People displaced by COVID-19 should be counted where they would normally have been living on April 1st. If they did not have an address as of April 1 and might not have an address for the foreseeable future, they should be counted at whatever address they’re staying at on April 1st.

Is the census really that easy?

It sure is. 10 questions in less than 10 minutes will shape the next 10 years. And you can do it from the comfort of your home.

Now that that’s sorted, do your part to check in with your families, friends, and neighbors and make sure they’re counted in the census. Remember, we need a complete count so we get our fair share of funding for our essential public services, including health care, and representation. Let’s make it count. 

Making Sense of the Census” is a weekly column from Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020.  Every week we will be publishing pieces from Julie and guest authors laying out the facts and answering tough questions about this year’s census. Fill out the census now at my2020census.gov

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