Millions of dollars in less than ten minutes? That’s no exaggeration.
The 2020 Census
is here. And while many people see the form as yet another government annoyance, in truth, filling it out has direct consequences for their personal and community life.
Why the Census Matters
It’s all about the money. The government uses Census data to analyze population growth and make funding decisions.
Medicaid * Head Start * community mental health services * Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) * Pell Grants * Title 1 Grants * HUD Programs * USDA School Lunch Program * DOT Highway Planning & Construction * public transit * and more.
Census results will show which communities need new clinics, hospitals, or fire departments. And businesses use Census data, too. They look at population statistics to help decide where to add jobs or open stores and offices.
Plus, Census results determine congressional as well as local Senate, Assembly and City Council districts, so with increased counts, we get additional representation in government.
“As a result,” explains, NYC Councilman Kalman Yeger, “Census data can translate into more police officers in our neighborhoods, more potholes being fixed, more jobs for families in need.”
But only if the Census has accurate information about your district.
What New York Lost in 2010
The U.S. Census isn’t the only way that the population gets counted; local organizations do small-scale population counts, too. Looking at the discrepancies between those counts and the U.S. Census, experts estimate that New York was undercounted by a third in the 2010 Census. That’s huge, and it translates into hundreds of millions of dollars that weren’t allocated to benefit New Yorkers.
Even worse, Jewish participation was particularly low. As a result, predominantly Jewish neighborhoods were critically underrepresented.
In the words of NYC Councilman Chaim Deutsch, “Every ten years, Americans have an opportunity to be counted. The data that is collected is used to determine things like federal funding for communities and representation in government. It is critical that we participate in the census to ensure that we are receiving what we are due. It takes less than five minutes to complete the census – less than five minutes to do your part in fighting for our community!”
Agudath Israel Leading the Cause
Working together with local elected officials, Agudah is educating the public about the Census. In fact, Agudah hired additional staff to call citizens and urge them to fill out the form as well as help them complete the census over the phone. They contact people and dispel common misconceptions, including:
No, the government doesn’t share your information with immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement agencies, the IRS, or allow it to be used to determine your eligibility for government benefits. It’s illegal to use the Census information for anything besides statistics.
Yes, your response matters! Reuters
cites a George Washington University study which found that “every person not counted will ultimately cost his or her state $19,500 over the next decade.” If you represent a large family, those dollars add up quickly.
New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein adds, “The census is among the most important government projects that occur each decade. It is incredibly vital that everyone respond – especially Orthodox Jews who have been historically undercounted. I look forward to continuing to work with Agudah to increase the response rate from our community.”
Filling out the Census form is crucial to the well-being of our communities for years to come.