House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney held a hearing last week on the challenges facing the 2020 Census.
The primary objective — making sure everyone is properly counted — is made even more complicated by the current political climate.
For New York in particular, the pressure to count every single person living in the Empire State is even greater after preliminary Census projections show New York’s population has declined.
- Census: New York Led Population Decline in Last Year
- Upstate New York Dealing With Population Decline, Officials Concerned
- New Yorkers Moving to Florida More than Any Other State, Census Says
- Watertown-Fort Drum Area Has One of the Largest Decreasing Populations in the Nation
Census data determines clout in Washington from how many representatives the state has to the amount of federal resources coming back home. Fewer people being counted translates into less money coming back to New York for areas like education, infrastructure, and public safety.
If projections hold true, it also means the current state Congressional delegation could lose a House seat — dropping from 27 Representatives to 26.
“Right now we need to be solely focused on alerting, enlightening the community on how critical this census is,” said Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke.
Understandably, New York lawmakers are pushing hard to make sure everyone is properly counted.
“Five of the seven more undercounted Congressional districts in the nation out of 435 in total are located in New York City. We have to change that around,” said Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.
Challenges to counting everyone properly include language barriers, the digital divide, and inherent distrust of the Census in minority communities. That's something lawmakers on both the federal and state levels hope to address by the time the notices start going out.
“The Census is safe, it is absolutely confidential, and it is extremely illegal for the Census to share personal information,” said Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “That being said if you’re undocumented, it’s safe to answer. If you’re homeless, it’s safe to answer.”