Stay Informed: NYC Census 2020 By Jonelle Taylor

Several people have heard of the United States census but are not informed of how it affects them. The census is designed to take the official count of everyone who lives in the United States every ten years and has been occurring since 1790.

One of the things that the census does is give your state Representatives in the House. If you disagree with the law or policies currently implemented in your state, filling out the census is your vote for the representative that has an impact on changing them.

Besides that, the census also affects redistricting. Redistricting entails dividing communities (similar to that of zip codes) which affects how much of the more than $650 billion in federal funding your community receives. This funding can go towards increasing the quality of education in schools, social services such as housing, public transportation, healthcare, and much more.

Unfortunately, New York City has always been undercounted even though it is one of the most popular cities in the United States. In 2010, according to NYC. gov, the response rate just for NYC was 62% compared to the national average of 76%. With the current pandemic, it is more important than ever that our state is represented. Hospitals still need funding for materials and supplies to protect their workers and patients. Minorities who live in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens have been the hardest hit and many have succumbed to the symptoms of COVID-19. The risk of being undercounted again this year and missing out on these resources will be devastating to our communities in the future.

March of 2020 has been the first year that the census is available online at my2020census.gov. You can also call 855-562-2020 or choose to mail in your response in the language of your choice. The census asks a total of 10 questions. Some of which will include your name, age, race, gender, whether you rent or own your home, and how many people live there. If you are concerned, please remember that the census will not ask you about your citizenship status. And if that is not enough, the government protects you under Title 13.

Title 13 is a U.S Code that protects your census data and allows it to remain anonymous for 70 years. If anyone is to disclose it before that timeframe, they will face a penalty of paying up to $250 thousand and imprisonment for up to 5 years. Additionally, the census will not ask for your financial info and if it does, do not fill it out because it is a scam. 

Remember you are not putting your family at risk by not filling out the census. In fact, it does more harm than good if you ignore it. For every person not counted our state loses another seat in the House and thousands of dollars in public funding. That is why it is crucial you get counted. It does not matter whether you are a citizen, undocumented immigrant, adult, child— you do not even have to be registered to vote. Just get counted. 

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