Crown Heights

Mayor, House members worry about Census count

July 12, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke says many parts of Central Brooklyn were under-counted in the 2010 Census. Photo courtesy of Clarke’s office

The next U.S. census isn’t scheduled to take place until 2020, but Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democratic members of New York City’s congressional delegation are expressing concern that the local effort to count how many people are living here will fall short due to inadequate funding.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke was among several House members who signed a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce calling on the agency to support full funding for the New York City operations of the Census Bureau and the 2020 census.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Queens) is leading the effort to get funding in place.

The mayor said he supports what the lawmakers are doing.

“You can’t plan to serve the people of this nation unless you know who they are and what their needs are. It’s essential to good policy, regardless of one’s political affiliation or geography. Every person counts,” de Blasio said in a statement. “I join with the New York delegation in calling for fully funding 21st-century practices for the Census Bureau to avoid a major undercount of the 2020 census.”

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census takes place once every 10 years. It serves as the nation’s official count of how many people are living here.

Clarke charged that in the past, New York’s immigrant communities have been undercounted in the census.

The census is crucial, since it is the data point that is used to determine the number of congressional seats each state receives, how state legislative districts are drawn and how more than $400 billion in federal funds is allocated to state and local governments.

New York City, although heavily populated, is traditionally undercounted in the census, which causes the city and state to lose out on important federal support, according to Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn).

“As the population of New York City continues to expand, our needs increase,” said Clarke said in a statement. “But historically, communities of color and immigrant families have been undercounted and, therefore, underserved. In the 2010 census, for example, some neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn were reported to have lost population, despite the fact that the population had clearly increased. We need sufficient resources to count every individual in New York City to guarantee their full representation.”

The New York delegation is calling on the Department of Commerce to support full funding for the Census Bureau over the next three years to ensure an accurate count in 2020.

To avoid a major undercount of the 2020 census, the Census Bureau needs to monitor 2020 operations in real time, according to Clarke. To accomplish this, the Census Bureau needs sufficient funding to test methods and tools that will be required for this purpose, she said. The Census Bureau also needs funding for a full communications campaign that emphasizes the importance of responding to the census, she added.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velázquez, Eliot L. Engel, Thomas R. Suozzi, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Adriano Espaillat and José E. Serrano.