New York’s Largest Census Coalition Calls on NYS to Fund Census or Lose Congressional Seats and Political Power

February 25th, 2019

96 orgs sign letter asking NYS to allocate $40M to avoid an undercount in the 2020 Census

NEW YORK, NY - On Friday, New York Counts 2020, a growing coalition of organizations representing a wide spectrum of diverse interests across the state united in seeking a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census, sent a letter to the State Legislature asking each member to commit their support to allocate at least $40 million in funding for Census outreach and education in order to avoid an undercount of New York in 2020.

Ninety-six of New York Counts 2020’s organizational members signed the letter, representing immigrant rights, labor, education, religion, health, government, technology, business, and libraries. On March 5th, nearly two hundred coalition members from across the state, from more than 50 organizations, will meet with legislators in the Albany to ask for the allocation of $40 million to Census outreach and education.

Census data is used to distribute upwards of 75% of all federal funds across the country based on states’ population density. For the top sixteen federally funded programs alone, New York receives $53 billion based in part on the census count. Election Data Services released its 2018 Appointment Study in December, finding that New York could lose two congressional seats based on projected Census data in 2020.

“Without support from the state for necessary Census outreach and education, New Yorkers stand to lose representation in Congress and billions of dollars in federal funding. States like California have already invested $100 million to support community-based efforts to improve Census participation amongst immigrant, low-income and other at-risk communities to assure its political power and continued share of funding for critical services. It is imperative that New York follow in these footsteps and allocate $40 million for outreach and education so that every New Yorker is accurately counted in 2020,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (Facilitator of New York Counts 2020).

"Community residents often have a deeper connection with community based organizations through the services they provide. It is essential for community based organizations to assist with census education and outreach to ensure a fair and accurate count of all New York State residents. In order for it to be an effective grass root strategy, funding is critical!," stated Pharein Griffith, (Chair, civic engagement committee of New York Branch NAACP), Co-chair of New York Counts 2020 outreach and organizing committee.

“Knowledge of the population is the basis for empowering it. The decennial census determines where the People are and, consequently,  how districts are drawn and how much congressional representation New York is entitled to. A census undercount is a direct affront to representative democracy,” said Rachel Bloom,(Director of Public Policy and Programs, Citizens Union), co-chair, New York Counts State and Local Government Committee


New York Counts 2020 is a statewide coalition, including over 150 partners from across the state, that seeks to maximize participation in the 2020 Census and counter the expected impact of the Trump administration’s efforts to chill participation in the 2020 Census. The coalition represents a wide array of issues and industries including immigrant rights, labor, education, religion, health, government, technology, business, and libraries.

The Fiscal Policy Institute released its cost analysis for New York’s Census education and community outreach. In order to maximize participation and ensure a fair and accurate count, community organizations require sufficient funding to reach marginalized populations. The report takes the Census Bureau’s “hard to count” populations, and proposes a cost estimate of just $2 per person if all residents in hard to count groups receive basic community outreach. An investment of $2 per person could yield billions in federal funding to New York for ten years. Aggressive community outreach is necessary to assist people completing the census online for the first time, and to educate the community on the impact of a pending Supreme Court decision on the controversial attempt by the federal administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 survey.