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Making Census Of It: Brooklyn Officials Claim 2010 Census Undercounted Borough

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The NY1 series "Making Census Of It", takes us to Brooklyn, which may still be the city's most populous borough, but which local officials say may have been undercounted in the 2010 U.S. Census. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

On its own, Brooklyn would be the nation's fourth largest city. The U.S. Cenus Bureau says there are 2.5 million residents here, but borough officials say the figure is closer to 2.6 million.

"Just add the Hasidim. Just them alone is 40,000, if not more," says Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

The borough president cites high birth rates in Jewish communities like Borough Park, Midwood, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, and also points to all the new occupied residential high-rises built in the past decade.

"There's no question that we were robbed," says Markowitz.

Brooklyn's low numbers reflected in the overall count put in jeopardy billions of federal dollars that the borough may be entiltled to. City Councilman Vincent Gentile says he was hoping for a recount after the census recorded a population loss in his district.

"Let's just recount and do it over. But we've been told by the Census Bureau that's impossible, because the law requires the count to be made on a certain point in time, that being April 1, 2010. And you can't recreate April 1, 2010," says Gentile.

On a particular Bay Ridge block back in 2000, the census reported only one vacancy. This time around, there were more than 50.

Gentile says streets are busy, homes remain well-mantained, the real estate market is hot and schools are overcrowded.

Three new elementary schools are being built in Bay Ridge to ease the overcrowding problem. One is slated to open this fall and the other two are scheduled to open in September 2012.

"Our district here in Brooklyn, District 20, is the most overcrowded school district in Brooklyn and among the top five in the City of New York," says Gentile.

To adjust the numbers, the city plans to make a formal appeal. Brooklyn College Sociology Department Chair Kenneth Gould says the Brooklyn count will always be a challenge.

"Trying to reach every household in a place this complex, this diverse is always going to be a difficult task," says Gould.

However, it may not be as difficult as trying to work around what elected officials perceive is an undercount.

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