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Source: US State of New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced local governments can apply for their shares of the $20 million in funding made available in the FY 2020 State Budget and designated to help make sure every New Yorker is counted in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census. The Funding is part of the State’s $60 million outreach effort that also includes up to $40 million from existing resources that leverages the outreach capacity of dozens of State agencies and public authorities.

“While this federal administration does its best to instill fear in our immigrant communities in an attempt to stop them from filling out the Census questionnaire, we are fighting back to ensure every New Yorker is counted,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are making these funds available to local governments so they can work with local organizations that have the necessary on-the-ground expertise to connect with our hardest-to-count communities and help ensure New York is properly represented at the federal level.”

The State’s support for the Census count builds on findings and recommendations released in October by the New York State Complete Commission, which held 10 public hearings and reviewed hundreds of comments, expert testimonies and in-depth analysis of previous census results. The Commission found that the 2020 Census faces unprecedented challenges. For the first time, the Census will be conducted primarily online, and while the Trump Administration failed in its effort to include a citizenship question on the Census, its attempt to do so spread fear among immigrant communities. 

The Trump administration and Congress have also failed to fully fund Census operations in the years leading up to 2020. As a result of this failure, the Census Bureau has been forced to cut costs, shifting responsibility for on-the-ground work necessary to drive participation in the 2020 Census from the federal government to state and local partners. The number of U.S. Census Bureau field offices in New York has dropped from 35 in 2010 to 21 in 2020.

Of the $20 million made available through the FY 2020 Budget, $15 million is being distributed to all 62 counties as well as the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers. Each locality that responds to the Request for Expressions of Interest that was released today will then submit a plan outlining how they will use the funds. The remaining $5 million will be deployed over the coming year to target specific communities where further outreach will be necessary as 2020 Census questionnaire filing results become available.

The $15 million is distributed to local governments based on a formula that builds on the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s At-Risk Community Index, a data-based measure of undercount risk, while accounting for differences in population density and its impact on outreach logistics. The funding allocations to counties and cities is available here.

Further guidance on how localities can develop their plans will be provided in the near future. Counties and cities have 30 days to submit their final plans, and funding awards will be approved in late January. 

The $20 million from the FY 2020 Budget is in addition to the up to $40 million in existing resources being deployed across dozens of State agencies and authorities to support a statewide Census awareness campaign. 

These state entities, including the departments of Labor, Motor Vehicles, Agriculture and Markets, and the offices of Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and People with Developmental Disabilities, and Empire State Development, and the Division of Veterans’ Services will conduct outreach and provide Census-related information across their millions of contacts with the public. While the U.S. Census Bureau is only providing translation for a fraction of the languages spoken in New York State, State employees are already trained to use Language Line, which provides on the spot translation services for more than 200 languages. Examples of how State entities will leverage their resources include, but are not limited to:

  • The Department of Labor, which reaches more than 9 million workers, 550,000 businesses, and serves more than 500,000 New Yorkers directly will open all 96 of its Career Centers as census assistance centers where members of the public can securely complete their 2020 Census questionnaire online. Career Centers will also display Census information on TV monitors in the waiting room, posters, and handouts in multiple languages. The Department of Labor has also already promoted Census Bureau jobs at more than 100 jobs fairs and other recruiting events it hosts in every region of the state. 
  • Every New Yorker lives within 30 miles of one of SUNY’s 64 campuses and CUNY adds 25 campuses across New York City’s five boroughs all of which can serve as nodes that combine outreach efforts with resources. The two university systems, including their community college networks, will also collaborate with the State to ensure their nearly 700,000 students are counted. Empire State College will open dozens of computer labs across the state for members of the public to use to complete the Census. 
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles has 27 state-run district offices and 94 county-run field offices across the state through which it reaches about 12 million customers annually. Census information will be displayed and distributed at every location and staff will be equipped to promote the Census in discussions with all visitors. It will also tap its database of approximately 4 million email addresses.  

These efforts will build on action already taken directly by the State, that added over 225,000 addresses to the Census Bureau’s Master Address file. In addition, following leadership from New York State, local governments added and corrected several hundred thousand addresses. This multi-layered, multi-year effort produced a nation-leading results. Governor Cuomo also invested $500 million to leverage $1.4 billion from the private sector to expand high-speed Internet to all New Yorkers with nearly 90 percent of the funding already awarded.

MIL OSI USA News