Queens nonprofits receive cash infusion ahead of 2020 census

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced on Monday that the City Council would grant community-based organizations $4 million to help fund census efforts.  Eagle  photo by Victoria Merlino.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced on Monday that the City Council would grant community-based organizations $4 million to help fund census efforts. Eagle photo by Victoria Merlino.

By Victoria Merlino

The City Council will pump $4 million into various community-based organizations, including several groups based in Queens, as part of an effort to reach New Yorkers in hard-to-count communities in the 2020 Census. 

Queens funding recipients include Asian Americans for Equality and the CHAZAQ Organization USA. 

Other recipients include the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York, Arab American Family Support Center, Asian Americans for Equality, United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. Funding will help with training, focus group coordination and other planning as the city prepares to have more than 8 million residents counted by the federal government. 

“This funding is just the beginning, a first step toward getting an accurate count in order for us to receive the federal funds and the number of political representatives we deserve,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement. “The City Council recognizes the vital work community-based organizations will contribute to help ensure every New Yorker gets counted in the 2020 Census.”

An accurate census count is crucial for ensuring adequate funding from the federal government and proportionate representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the 2010 census, New York City’s self-response rate was 10 points below the national average. Johnson vowed to not let the count dip so low again. 

“A complete count will send a strong message to the Trump Administration that New York is not invisible and not intimidated by the president’s attacks on our diverse communities,” he said.

Though the Trump administration lost the protracted fight to have a citizenship question placed on the census, activists and New York City leaders alike are concerned that its specter will depress turnout as immigrants fear ICE crackdowns. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that distrust of government and concerns about privacy prevent many people from responding to the census.

Queens residents may be especially susceptible, with 47 percent of the borough’s population being immigrants.   

In recent weeks, New York City government has made a push to raise residents’ confidence in completing the census. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Aug. 1 that he would commit more money toward funding census training, education and activities at the city’s libraries.

Community-based groups receiving funds voiced the challenges of getting an accurate census count within their own communities, and how the newly allocated funds with assist with that purpose.

“As an organization serving hard-to-count residents, including immigrant and low-income New Yorkers, and households with unrelated adults living in overcrowded housing, we know all too well the steep barriers to full participation in the 2020 Census,”  Co-Executive Directors of Asian Americans for Equality Jennifer Sun and Thomas Yu said in a statement. “This funding will provide community-based organizations with critical tools to counteract the Trump administration’s blatant attempts to disenfranchise immigrants and communities of color.” 

“CHAZAQ is honored to be chosen for this great responsibility, and takes pride in being part of making sure every single person in our City is counted,” said Israel Peskowitz, director of Community Development CHAZAQ Organization USA, in a statement.