Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is preparing the borough of nearly 2.4 million people for the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census with a bough-wide Town Hall on Tuesday, November 13.
“The Census impacts everything we do here in Queens, and we have so much at stake,” said Katz.“It determines how much representation we will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, how much funding we will receive for infrastructure and health services and for our schools over the next decade, and much more. In our ever-growing city and boroughs, it is imperative that we be counted fully.”
Katz said an undercount means underfunding and underrepresentation, with real damages and real costs that will hurt communities across America and certainly in Queens. Everyone is urged to join the discussions to learn about the proposed changes and how you can help ensure your neighborhood is accurately counted, she said.
The 2020 Census will pose new challenges and raise important questions. For example:
- For the first time ever, 80% of respondents will be asked to complete the Census form online, presenting uncertainty over the impact of the digital divide, including how seniors or others who either lack internet access or are limited in their internet proficiency can ensure they are not overlooked.
- The potential inclusion of a controversial citizenship question in the 2020 Census is a deep cause for concern. The federal government announced in March its intention to add a citizenship question, sparking concerns that such a query could widely discourage responses and lead to a substantial undercount in communities where residents fear being targeted over their immigration or residency status. Should the citizenship question ultimately be added, it will be the first count since 1950 in which all U.S. households will be asked about their citizenship status.
In August 2018, Katz submitted a comment in the Federal Register blasting the proposed citizenship question, saying it could lead to potentially damaging consequences in Queens:
“As President of the Borough of Queens, New York, I am submitting this comment to express my strong opposition to the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 census. Queens is one of the most diverse regions in the United States, where 2.4 million people coexist regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or legal status,” Katz wrote. “It is more important than ever for an area like Queens to be as fully counted as possible. Including a citizenship question would undermine the primary goal of the census: a complete and accurate count of all persons living in the United States.”
Katz’ office said the 2010 Census saw dramatic undercounts in Queens neighborhoods, particularly areas with high immigrant populations such as East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, where tens of thousands of people were overlooked. As a whole, the 2010 Census reported the population of Queens rose by only 1,300 people over the prior decade, a dubious number that is likely wildly inaccurate.
The town hall will feature an outline of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Census 2020 outreach strategy and a presentation on the demographics of Queens.
Confirmed speakers include Mr. Jeff Behler and MinKwon Center for Community Action Executive Director John Park. Katz will also announce the formation of her Queens Complete Count Committee, first announced at her State of the Borough address earlier this year, tasked with strategizing and maximizing participation in the 2020 Census.
The town hall is slated for 6 – 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center in Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP in advance at queensbp.org/rsvp or by calling 718-286-2661.