Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez paid an unexpected visit to Community Board 11 on Thursday, January 23, where she discussed the 2020 Census, partisan politics and homelessness.
As the 2020 Census rapidly approaches, she strongly urged the board to reach out to the community to participate in the count so the Bronx can get the appropriate funding it needs.
“The problem is our district is one of the least counted communities in the country, and the problem with that is when our families do not answer the census, the federal government thinks less people live here than they do,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Which means our schools get less money than they need, which means our infrastructure, our roads and bridges don’t get prepared for the population.”
The congresswoman assured the public there will not be an immigration status question on the census like previous years, which some believe resulted in the lack of participation.
“There are some neighborhoods in our community that are counted at 60 to 68 percent of the actual reality, which means we’re only getting 60 percent of the funding that we need,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So, as local leaders, we need to make sure to get the word out about that.”
CB 11 chairman Al D’Angelo told Ocasio-Cortez to send a message back to Washington saying the people are sick of the bipartisan politics because nothing is getting done and it is ultimately hurting the people.
This sparked Ocasio-Cortez to speak on a recent agreement between the two parties regarding civil liberties and more specifically, face recognition technology.
“One in every two Americans has their facial recognition information in a database and most people don’t know it,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So half the people in this room have their information in a facial recognition database.”
When Delta Airlines asks to scan your face in order to board the board a flight, no one is legally obligated to consent to the scan, she advised.
Rabbi Moshe Fuchs’ question on homelessness in the city rounded out the congresswoman’s night.
“It seems to me just from my own observation,” Fuchs said. “Homelessness is all over the place.”
Ocasio-Cortez said it’s a question everybody should be asking themselves, since it really concerns human empathy.
“Rates of homelessness are skyrocketing in the city, we have the highest rate of homelessness in NYC since the Great Depression,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But to contrast that, even with the highest rate, there are three empty apartments for every person experiencing homeless in the city.”
She also pointed out that affordable housing is not actually affordable for most middle class families.
“As many of us know, what gets called affordable housing in New York City is not affordable at all,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I’m seeing affordable housing units go up for people and families making a $150,000 a year, that’s not affordable.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she would be taking all the evening’s concerns back with her to D.C.