With only four weeks left to fill out the Census, New York City officials are sounding the alarm.
“We have a problem,” Mayor de Blasio acknowledged.
Even though there’s been a huge outreach to immigrant New Yorkers and communities of color, some well-off white New Yorkers are also falling behind.
With a 54 percent self-response rate, City Council District 4, which includes areas in Midtown and the Upper East Side, is the worst performer in the borough of Manhattan. The census tract that includes Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue has only gotten to 20 percent.
“It’s a lot of folks in my district who were able to leave, but what we are trying to remind them is that this is about being neighborly and being part of the city, and that means that when you don’t fill out the Census, it does affect the city’s resources. It does affect your neighborhood as well, but it will have a disparate impact on other areas,” Keith Powers, who represents this district in the City Council, said.
Julie Menin, director of the city's Census 2020 initiative, fears these New Yorkers might be putting down their out-of-town temporary address, or not filling out the form at all. An undercount could reduce the number of congressional seats allocated for New York and the amount of federal funds coming to the city in the next decade.
“With COVID, our City is in an economic catastrophe and we need every single dollar we can get,” Menin said. “For New Yorkers to say I’m not going to help New York City in its greatest time of need, I’m not going to do the right thing and fill it out as a New Yorker, is unconscionable.”
In order to find these New Yorkers, Menin got from the Board of Elections data of about 35,000 Manhattan voters who requested absentee ballots in June.
They will receive phone calls. Also, they will get postcards from their borough president, Gale Brewer.
“I’m disappointed, not that they temporarily moved,” Brewer said, “although I’d like everybody to stay here, but more importantly, they need to know that by law, the Census needs to be filled out with their permanent New York City - in this case, Manhattan - address.”
At the same time, in order to spur some competition between low-performing neighborhoods, the city just announced a “census subway series” between Midwood in Brooklyn and the Upper East Side. The winner will be announced on September 6.
At this point, the self-response rate for New York City as a whole is 57.9 percent. That’s four percent below the 2010 rate of 61.9 percent.
To those who might have used their temporary out-of-town address, the message is “fix it.” They can easily do it by visiting My2020census.gov.