As fears grow over the possibility that Harlem residents will be undercounted in the 2020 Census, two East Side politicians took to the streets on Wednesday to encourage East Harlem residents to complete the census and be counted.
City Councilmember Diana Ayala, who represents East Harlem, and Assemblymember Dan Quart, whose district covers much of the Upper East Side, knocked on doors at the 1199 Housing Corporation on First Avenue, explaining why an undercount could deprive the neighborhood of much-needed resources.
The census helps determine the amount of federal funding that New York will receive for services like schools and hospitals, as well as how much representation the state gets in Congress.
As of Wednesday, New York’s 60.5 percent self-response rate ranked 35th among the 50 states. In Manhattan, the response rate has been even lower, at just 58.4 percent — several points below the borough’s 66.2 percent self-response rate for the 2010 Census reports Patch.
State and local officials worry that the city’s lagging response rates will lead to underrepresentation in Washington — especially in light of the Trump administration’s decision to cut the census count short by a month, and the uncertainty that the coronavirus pandemic introduced into the outreach process.
“If this pandemic has done anything, it has highlighted the inequities that continue to exist in communities like ours,” Ayala said in a news release. “These resources would come a long way towards helping us get to a place of equity.”
Quart, who worked as a census taker in high school, said that “millions of federal dollars are on the line.”
Get the best Harlem news in your inbox here.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving New York in a state of financial crisis, filling out the census and ensuring NY doesn’t miss out on federal funding is more important than ever,” he said.
Residents can fill out the census online at my2020census.gov, or over the phone at 844-330-2020.