Advocates Urge Governor to Fund Efforts to Ensure a Complete Census Count – Next Year Will be Too Late

February 11th, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - Nearly 50 organizations representing child advocacy; immigration, social justice, health equity and faith groups; and child care, welfare, health and family service providers delivered a letter today to Governor Cuomo urging him to allocate at least $40 million in his 30-day Executive Budget Amendments to ensure a complete and fair census count of New Yorkers in the 2020 Census.

According to the letter, hanging in the balance is more than $53 billion in federal funds allocated to New York and localities based on Census data, including billions for programs that benefit children, such as education grants, including Title I and special education, Head Start, and child care assistance.  An undercount could lead to cuts to all of these program in New York. “Significant state funding is needed in this 2019-2020 budget; next year will be too late.”

Many of the signatories are child advocates and child-serving agencies because young children are historically undercounted in the Census. In the 2010 Census, young children had the worst undercount of any age group, missing nearly 5% of children aged 0-4, or about 1 million children.  In 2010, New York had the third highest number of children ages 0-4 residing in at risk areas, and 43% of children in New York live in census blocks at risk of going undercounted again.

It is widely understood that New York must mount a concerted and well-resourced education, outreach and mobilization effort to avoid another, possibly worse, undercount in 2020.  “Unfortunately,” Kate Breslin, President and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, one of the letter’s authors writes, “while last year's New York State budget included legislation to create a Complete Count Committee, the committee has not yet been convened.  Further, neither last year's state budget, nor this year's Executive Budget contain any funding for Census efforts.   By way of comparison, California invested $90 million in its Census efforts last year.  And, California's Executive Budget proposes $50 million more in investment for this year.”

"Community-based groups are vital in ensuring a full and accurate count of New York in 2020, but require sufficient funding for Census outreach and education. These organizations have already earned the trust to reach hard to count communities, including minority, immigrant, religious, youth, and homeless populations. We call on the Governor to commit $40 million in funding for Census outreach, and support community-based organizations working to ensure a full count of all New Yorkers," stated Elizabeth R. OuYang, Coordinator, New York Counts 2020, a statewide coalition of more than 140 diverse stakeholder groups advocating for a fair and accurate Census.  Facilitated by New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), New York Counts 2020 is composed of racial, faith based, immigrant, business, housing, health, education, and civic engagement groups, including libraries and research institutes, like Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. This $40 million ask is based on recommendations in the Fiscal Policy Institute’s report commissioned by New York Counts 2020.