Census Spending Is A Racial Justice Imperative

In a NY Daily News oped, Senator Zellnor Myrie writes “Take Brooklyn. Eighty percent of Brooklynites live in hard-to-count neighborhoods, and according to the Brooklyn Community Foundation, in 2010, Brooklyn had the lowest mail return rate in the country among counties with populations of 500,000 or more.

Of the 500 census tracts most at-risk of an undercount in New York state, almost half are located in Brooklyn. A state-appointed commission recently confirmed this risk, writing that “New York City has the highest percentage of at-risk populations for eight of the 10 metrics” and that “[T]he communities at the greatest risk of being undercounted warrant the greatest strategic focus by the State.

Back in March, the state Legislature agreed to direct $20 million in funds to census outreach efforts. Yet 230 days since those funds were allocated and 40 days since the state’s commission issued its census funding recommendations, those funds are nowhere to be found.

With only four months until the census begins, none of the money that we authorized for census outreach has been released. The community groups who are in most need of those funds and who are most equipped to effectively spread awareness about the census are being left high and dry.”

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