BP Adams: Brooklyn residents need to fill out census forms or borough could lose funding
More than 80 percent of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents live in areas identified as “hard to count,” according to the City University of New York (CUNY) Mapping Service.
This could come back to haunt the borough in the 2020 Census. Census figures factor in obtaining federal funding for health care, schools, housing, security, infrastructure, transportation and more. An undercounted population means Brooklyn loses out on much-needed funding it is entitled to.
Census figures also determine the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives and affects the redrawing of state and federal election districts.
On Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined Cecilia Clarke, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, along with other institutions to launch the #MakeBrooklynCount campaign for a complete census count in Brooklyn.
Results of the census will determine Brooklyn’s funding level for the next decade, so it’s urgent to get it right, Adams said.
In 2010, Kings County was one of the two hardest-to-count counties in New York state, with 70 percent or less of households mailing back the census questionnaire, according to Brooklyn Community Foundation.
Making the situation worse this decade, Congress has failed to adequately fund the 2020 Census. According to the foundation, the Census Bureau will have to cut back on the aspects of the counting process that help historically undercounted communities to get counted, including door-to-door follow-up and outreach to those who don’t speak English.
Adding to Brooklyn’s problem, undocumented residents fear that revealing their status could lead to expulsion. This fear has been exacerbated during the Trump administration, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has proposed adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form. (The last time this question was included in the census was in 1965.) Results of census polling are not supposed to be shared with other federal agencies.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Ross’ motives could not be questioned. But Democrats say that the cities most hurt by an undercount would be urban and vote Democrat, since these areas have the largest numbers of undocumented immigrants.
In June, the foundation launched a $100,000 organizing effort to prepare for the census. Grants went to the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College and the New York Immigration Coalition.
The Brooklyn Complete Count Committee, formed by Adams with input from New York Counts 2020, CUNY, Rockefeller Institute and the Center for Law and Social Justice, will outreach to Brooklyn’s businesses, civic and faith-based organizations.
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