Board 11 worries Census will undercount Bensonhurst-Bath Beach

June 19, 2019 Paula Katinas
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Brooklyn’s Community Board 11 is home to more than 204,000 residents, making the Bensonhurst-Bath Beach area one of the most densely populated parts of the borough, according to board officials.

But Board 11 officials said they’re growing increasingly concerned that a large number of those residents won’t be counted in the 2020 Census and that the community will lose out on vital government services as a result.

That’s why an effort is already underway to convince residents to fill out Census forms to ensure that everyone is counted, even though the nation’s official count of its population won’t take place until next year, said CB11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia.

Speaking at the board’s June 13 meeting, Elias-Pavia said that it’s not too early to be dealing with the topic. “Let’s start speaking about it,” she told the board.

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Mandated by the Constitution, the Census is conducted once every 10 years. Among other things, it determines the size of a state’s delegation to the 435-member House of Representatives and how much federal funding a state will receive. “All funding is determined by participation in the Census,” Elias-Pavia said.

The last Census was done in 2010.

To encourage participation this time around, the 2020 Census will mark the first time residents will be able to fill out the form online.

And to help boost the number of people participating in the Census, the form, which asks questions such as the number of people living in a house, will be printed in 13 different languages.

That’s vital in Board 11, said Elias-Pavia, who added that the majority of community board residents are immigrants.

A community health profile compiled by the New York City Department of Health revealed that 56 percent of Board 11 residents were born outside the U.S. and that 47 percent of the population has limited English proficiency.

The federal government will start mailing Census forms to residents in March of 2020. The official Census Day is April 1, 2020.

Gearing up for the Census, Mayor Bill de Blasio tapped Julie Menin, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, to serve as director of the Office of the Census for New York City in January.

“Our share of over $800 billion of annual federal funding and our voice and power in Congress are at risk, and the stakes could not be higher. That is why our office is committed to working with every stakeholder to ensure we get this next Census right,” Menin said in a statement on April 1, which was designated as a Day of Action by the city to mark the one-year point before the Census takes place.

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out to 50 locations around the city on the Day of Action to hand out literature in 11 languages — English, Spanish, Mandarin, Bengali, Urdu, Arabic, French, Haitian-Creole, Russian, Korean and Polish.

Menin was the guest speaker at a Census town hall held last month by Councilmember Mark Treyger in Bensonhurst. Elias-Pavia also attended the town hall.

“The #2020Census is less than a year away. Demographic data from the #2020Census impacts future gov’t funding for education, infrastructure and other critical services for our city, and determines congressional representation. We need to ensure all NYers are prepared and counted for,” Treyger wrote on his Facebook page.

Maria Henderson, Treyger’s spokesperson, told the Home Reporter the lawmaker organized the town hall “to encourage participation in the Census.”

The city is determined to get as many people counted as possible, according to Henderson, who said the City Council’s budget “includes significant funding for Census outreach.”

Steve Mei, director of Brooklyn Community Services at the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc., said his organization is fully on board with the city’s Census outreach effort.

“CPC is proud to support Census outreach and education, especially here in Brooklyn where response rates have traditionally lagged due to fewer committed resources and opportunities to engage the hardest-to-reach New Yorkers,” Mei stated in April.

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