The New York City Council is allocating $4 million of this year’s budget to support nonprofits in their efforts to mobilize their communities for the 2020 Census, announced Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Thursday.
Five Brooklyn-based organizations are among the beneficiaries: The Center for Law and Social Justice’s Census Justice Project at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights, Make the Road New York in Bushwick, United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, the Arab American Family Support Center in Boerum Hill and the Council of Peoples Organization in Midwood.
“The City Council recognizes the vital work community-based organizations will contribute to helping ensure every New Yorker gets counted in the 2020 Census,” said Johnson. “It is important that these organizations start working now. It is critical we get a successful count. At stake for New York is at least $73 billion in federal funds for basic services, including public education, transit, federal housing, nutrition and healthcare. Our response rate in the last census was lower than the national average, and we cannot and will not let this happen again.”
The money will go toward providing support in planning for the census, especially in hard-to-count communities. The self-response rate for the 2010 Census in New York City was more than ten points below the national average, officials said.
The groups receiving this first allocation of funds will be able to offer training, messaging development, focus group coordination, and other planning and capacity-building resources to lay the groundwork for get-out-the-count efforts in 2020.
The announcement comes weeks after the Trump Administration, in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, abandoned its plan to add the citizenship question in the 2020 Census.
The Census is a snapshot of the geography and demographics of a community and helps the federal government determine how to distribute its resources and funding. Brooklyn is considered as one of the hardest to count counties in the state. Forty percent of the borough’s resident are foreign-born. Local lawmakers and advocates feared that the citizenship question would trigger a census undercount among communities of colors and immigrant communities, thereby tampering with their access to representation and resources.
And while the federal government’s withdrawal is a win for New York, there is still work to do to make sure all immigrants participate in the census, advocates warn.
“An accurate Census count is critical to the future of New York City,” said Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., general counsel and acting executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. “We look forward to partnering with the city and all of our partners to make certain that African descendant people, historically among the most underreported on the Census, are fully counted in order to receive the federal representation and funding that they deserve.”