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Tuesday, November 13

 QUEENS, NY — Considering the consequences that could come with a possible census undercount, Borough President Melinda Katz will host a borough-wide Town Hall on Tuesday, November 13th to begin preparing the borough of nearly 2.4 million people for the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, and the challenges presented by potential new measures slated for the decennial survey.

“The Census impacts everything we do here in Queens, and we have so much at stake,” said Borough President KATZ. “It determines how much representation we will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, how much funding we will receive for infrastructure and health services and for our schools over the next decade, and much more. In our ever-growing city and boroughs, it is imperative that we be counted fully. An undercount means underfunding and underrepresentation, with real damages and real costs that will hurt communities across America and certainly here in Queens. Everyone is urged to join the discussions to learn about the proposed changes and how you can help ensure your neighborhood is accurately counted.”

The 2020 Census will pose new challenges and raise important questions.  For example:

  • For the first time ever, 80% of respondents will be asked to complete the Census form online, presenting uncertainty over the impact of the digital divide, including how seniors or others who either lack internet access or are limited in their internet proficiency can ensure they are not overlooked.
  • The potential inclusion of a controversial citizenship question in the 2020 Census is a deep cause for concern. The federal government announced in March its intention to add a citizenship question, sparking concerns that such a query could widely discourage responses and lead to a substantial undercount in communities where residents fear being targeted over their immigration or residency status. Should the citizenship question ultimately be added, it will be the first count since 1950 in which all U.S. households will be asked about their citizenship status.

“Now is the time for New Yorkers to stand together and make sure everyone of us is counted,” said NYC Deputy Mayor J. PHIL THOMPSON. “Washington wants to sow fear to keep people in the shadows so that they feel alone and powerless. But New Yorkers, including immigrant New Yorkers, are not powerless. Making sure that every New Yorker stands up for each other and stands up to be counted sends a strong message that we will not stop fighting.”

“This forum provides valuable information on the strategies that will be deployed to get the most diverse county in the nation counted in the 2020 Census,” said Department of City Planning Population Division Director Dr. JOSEPH SALVO. “An accurate census count will help to ensure the political representation and resources needed to maintain the vitality and spirit that is Queens.”

The 2010 Census saw dramatic undercounts in Queens neighborhoods, particularly areas with high immigrant populations such as East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, where tens of thousands of people were overlooked. As a whole, the 2010 Census reported the population of Queens rose by only 1,300 people over the prior decade, a dubious number that is likely wildly inaccurate.

“The time for action on the 2020 Census is now.  The Census Bureau needs your help in recruiting your community members to work on the Census.  While the Census is a national event, we will only be successful if we conduct it at the local level, community members working in their own neighborhoods,” said JEFF BEHLER, New York Regional Director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “We also need your support in educating your community members on the importance of the Census and what it means to your community and its future.  Now is the time to have conversations on challenges to obtaining the most complete and accurate count for your community and work together on solutions that will reach your community members.”

The November 13th Town Hall will take place from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center in Queens Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP in advance at queensbp.org/rsvp or by calling 718-286-2661.

At the November 13th Town Hall, Deputy Mayor Thompson will outline Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Census 2020 outreach strategy and Dr. Salvo will deliver a presentation on the dmographics of Queens. Additional confirmed speakers include Mr. Jeff Behler and MinKwon Center for Community Action Executive Director John Park. Borough President Katz will also announce the formation of her Queens Complete Count Committee, first announced at her State of the Borough address earlier this year, tasked with strategizing and maximizing participation in the 2020 Census.

In August 2018, Borough President Katz submitted a comment in the Federal Register blasting the proposed citizenship question, saying it could lead to potentially damaging consequences in Queens:

“As President of the Borough of Queens, New York, I am submitting this comment to express my strong opposition to the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 census. Queens is one of the most diverse regions in the United States, where 2.4 million people coexist regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or legal status,” Borough President Katz wrote. “It is more important than ever for an area like Queens to be as fully counted as possible. Including a citizenship question would undermine the primary goal of the census: a complete and accurate count of all persons living in the United States.”


Follow Borough President Katz via @queensbpkatz on Twitter and Facebook