‘It’s time to step up’: New York City census director calls on city residents to fill out census in final week

Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin go door-knocking to encourage New Yorkers to complete the census in South Richmond Hill, Queens on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

By Emily Davenport

The days for New Yorkers to make sure they are counted in the 2020 Census are limited.

Over the summer, the Trump administration and Census Bureau announced that the deadline for the 2020 Census would be pushed back to Sept. 30, a month earlier than its Oct. 31 deadline, leaving the country now with one week to fill out the 2020 Census.

“It was a clear political attempt to undercount immigrant communities and communities of color,” said Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020. “Last year he tried to add a question about citizenship to the Census, we sued him and won. When he lost that case, he has tried anything he could to stop the census. It was a clear attempt to interfere for his own partisan gains.”

Currently, New York City has a 60.1% self-response rate, which is ahead of major cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, and only 6 points behind the national self-response rate. Of the five boroughs, Brooklyn has the lowest self-response rate at 57%. In the 2010 census, Brooklyn had a 65% response rate.

“We’re hosting 100 events this week throughout the city, with 29 in Brooklyn alone, to get people counted, ” said Menin. “We have phone called 3.5 million New Yorkers, sent over 7 million texts. We’re running 34 different media campaigns in 26 languages and have teams of canvassers out helping thousands of people fill the Census out.”

Certain Manhattan neighborhoods, such as SoHo, Tribeca, and the Lower East Side, saw low self-response rates this year. The NYC Census team were granted access to absentee ballot information from the Board of Elections to reach out to those who voted absentee last year to get these neighborhoods counted.

“We have mailed, called and texted 35,000 Manhattanites who voted absentee to fill out the Census,” said Menin. “Those numbers are pulling us down. It couldn’t be easier to [fill out the Census] now, you go online and fill it out.”

There are three ways to self-respond to the census: online at mycensus2020.gov, over the phone, or by mailing in the questionnaire that was originally sent out. Even with these measures in place, the NYC Census is stepping up its efforts to get more people counted in this final week of counting.

Menin wants New Yorkers to realize that undercounting in the Census could mean lost funding for the state and is urging city residents to make sure they are counted.

“Right now, it would cost an individual $2,700 and a household $7,000 in funding to not fill out the Census. Why anyone would leave money on the table like that, especially after COVID, people cannot do that,” said Menin. “We need every New Yorker to step up and answer these 10 questions. You’ve got one week to fill this out, it’s time to step up.”

To fill out the census, visit mycensus2020.gov.

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