2020 CENSUS OUTREACH

Director of the Census for New York City Julie Menin will tell us how the city plans to ensure that each resident of the five boroughs is accounted for, and why that accurate count should matter to you.

Aired on December 3, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO METROFOCUS.

THE 2020 CENSUS IS ALMOST HERE.

NEXT YEAR, THE UNITED STATES WILL ONCE AGAIN ATTEMPT TO COUNT EACH AND EVERY PERSON LIVING IN THIS COUNTRY IN ORDER TO DETERMINE THE DISTRIBUTION OF FEDERAL DOLLARS AND THE NUMBER OF SEATS EACH STATE IS ALLOCATED IN CONGRESS.

THE LAST NATIONAL CENSUS WAS IN 2010.

OFFICIALS AT THE TIME BELIEVED THE COUNT MAY HAVE MISSED AS MANY AS 250,000 RESIDENTS HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

THE EXACT NUMBERS MAY BE IN DISPUTE BUT WHAT ISN'T IN DISPUTE IS THAT THIS TIME PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE VERY HARD AT WORK TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERY NEW YORKER IS COUNTED.

AND JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THOSE EFFORTS AND WHY AN ACCURATE COUNT TRUELY MATTERS I EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT CORPORATION COUNSEL AT THE CITY LAW DEPARTMENT JULIE MENNEN.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

BEFORE WE GET TO 2020, LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION ABOUT 2010.

HOW DO WE KNOW FOR SURE THAT THERE WAS AN UNDERCOUNT IN THAT CENSUS?

IN 2010 AND ALSO I MIGHT ADD IN 2000, THE CITY'S SELF-RESPONSE RATE TO THE CENSUS WAS 62% MEANING THAT ONLY 62% OF NEW YORKERS SELF-RESPONDED TO THE SEINE TUS.

ALL THAT MEANS THEN IS THAT THEY DID NOT FILL OUT THE CENSUS.

WE LOST A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF FUNDING, AND THEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS TO STEP IN AND SEND OUT DOOR KNOCKERS TO KNOCK ON THE DOOR.

OFTEN TIMES THEY CAN'T COLLECT THE INFORMATION BECAUSE LEGALLY THE DOOR KNOCKERS WILL KNOCK ON THE DOOR AND IF THE PERSON DOESN'T ANSWER, THEY CAN KNOCK ON THE NEIGHBOR'S DOOR, TALK TO ANYONE IN THE HALLWAY AND SAY HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE IN THAT APARTMENT, AND THAT'S ACTUALLY HOW 2 MILLION CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE NATIONWIDE WERE LEFT OUT OF THE CENSUS IN 2010.

THEY SIMPLY WEREN'T COUNTED.

THEY WERE INVISIBLE.

DO WE HAVE A BETTER SENSE OF HOW MANY PEOPLE WE ARE NOT COUNTED IN NEW YORK CITY?

THE ESTIMATE IS 250,000.

THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS THE DATA IS REALLY NOT GREAT BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IMPUTES.

THEY BASICALLY LOOK AT OTHER RECORDS AND OTHER SOURCES IF PEOPLE DON'T RESPOND TO THE CENSUS.

THAT'S AGAIN HOW MANY SO MANY CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE WERE UNDERCOUNTED.

THEY'RE THE NUMBER ONE UNDERCOUNTED POPULATION.

AND THAT MATTERS BECAUSE IT MATTERS FOR HEAD START FUNDING OR OTHER IMPORTANT FUNDING THAT FAMILIES SO DESPERATELY NEED.

AND WE'LL GET TO WHAT'S AT STAKE HERE.

BUT THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM IS OF COURSE AS YOU SAY PEOPLE DON'T RESPOND.

PEOPLE DON'T PARTICIPATE IN THE CENSUS.

WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT LEAD TO THAT NON-PARTICIPATION?

I THINK IT'S REALLY ABOUT INFORMATION.

THE INFORMATION IN MARKETING AND ADVERTISING AROUND THE CENSUS HAS ALWAYS TRADITIONALLY BEEN DONE BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE MESSAGING REALLY IS AS FOLLOWS: FILL THE CENSUS OUT BECAUSE IT'S IN THE CONSTITUTION.

IT'S YOUR CIVIC DUTY.

IT'S THE LAW.

THAT'S WHY WE HAVE A 62% RESPONSE RATE IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT WASN'T PARTICULARLY COMPELLING.

CONVERSELY, IF THE MESSAGING IS IF YOU DON'T TAKE THE TWO MINUTES TO FILL THESE TEN QUESTIONS OUT, DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WILL LOSE FUNDING FOR YOUR CHILD'S LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL OR YOUR MOTHER'S SENIOR CENTER?

THAT WILL MATTER AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING WITH THE EFFORTS.

SO, ELABORATE ON THAT.

WHAT IS AT STAKE?

WHAT ARE THINGS THAT WE WILL LOSE?

SO, WE'RE REALLY IN A NATIONWIDE COMPETITION OF SORTS.

WE'RE FIGHTING FOR OUR FAIR SHARE OF OVER $650 BILLION THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ALLOCATES EACH AND EVERY YEAR.

SO, OVER THE NEXT DECADE, IT'S $6 TRILLION THAT WE'RE FIGHTING FOR OUR FAIR SHARE OF.

AND THAT'S WHY IT'S NOT AN OVERSTATEMENT TO SAY THAT THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE THAT IS AFFECTING THE CITY'S FUTURE IS INDEED THE CENSUS.

I SAY THAT BECAUSE THERE'S OVER 200 SERVICES THAT DEPEND ON IT.

PUBLIC EDGE AUCATION, WICK, SNA HEAD START.

IT REALLY RELIES ON US GETTING THIS RIGHT.

AND AN UNDERCOUNT WOULD ALSO LEAD TO THE LOSS OF REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS.

TALK ABOUT THAT.

IN AN UNDERCOUNT, WE STAND TO LOSE TWO CONGRESSIONAL SEATS STATEWIDE.

WE HAVE TO REMEMBER WHAT THIS MEANS AND HOW IT PLAYS OUT AROUND THE COUNTRY.

THERE WAS A LOT OF MEDIA ATTENTION TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S EFFORTS TO ADD A CITIZENSHIP QUESTION.

WE JOINED WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, SUED, WON OUR CASE AT THE SUPREME COURT.

BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT WHY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WANTED TO ADD THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION AND THE FACT THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP CONTINUES TO TWEET OUT THAT THE QUESTION IS ON THE CENSUS WHEN THAT'S ENTIRELY FALSE.

THE WHOLE ATTEMPT TO ADD THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION WAS AN ATTEMPT TO DEFUND PROGRESSIVE CITIES LIKE NEW YORK THAT HAVE LARGE IMMIGRANT POPULATIONS AND TO HAVE THEM LOSE CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATION.

AND WHERE DOES THE FUNDING GO?

IT GOES TO RED REPUBLICAN DISTRICTS THAT DO NOT HAVE LARGE IMMIGRANT POPULATIONS.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE REPERCUSSIONS, IT CAN CHANGE THE BALANCE OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE FOR YEARS IF NOT DECADES TO COME.

SO, TALK ABOUT THE STEPS THAT YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES ARE TAKING IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE THAT 2010 AND 2000 DOESN'T MAP IN 2020.

SO WE'RE REALLY DOING AN UNPRECEDENTED EFFORT.

THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL HAVE ALLOCATED A TOTAL OF $40 MILLION.

WITH THAT FUNDING WE'RE DOING A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT THINGS.

FIRST WE'VE ANNOUNCED WE'RE DISSEMINATING 19 MILLION OF THAT 40 MILLION TO COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS ON THE GROUND.

THEY'RE OFTEN TIMES THE MOST TRUSTED VOICE IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD, SO WE NEED THEIR HELP ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO FILL THE CENSUS OUT AND COMBAT THE MISINFORMATION THAT'S BEEN SPREAD BY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

WE'RE ALSO LAUNCHING A FIELD CAMPAIGN.

SO, WE'VE DECIDED NEW YORK CITY INTO 245 DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOODS AND CREATED NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZING CENSUS COMMITTEES, WHAT WE'RE CALLING NOCC.

THEY CAN JOIN THEIR LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMUNITY.

OF COURSE WE'RE GOING TO UTILIZE MEDIA AND ADVERTISING.

WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SURE OUR MESSAGING IS MICROTARGETING.

WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT FUNDING TO PUBLIC EDUCATION, FUNDING TO PUBLIC HOUSING FOR SENIOR CENTERS, FOR MEDICAID.

WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SURE NEW YORKERS UNDERSTAND IF THEY DON'T TAKE THE TWO MINUTES TO FILL THE CENSUS OUT, THEY WILL INDEED LOSE FUNDING FOR THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITY.

IF I UNDERSTAND IT, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THE KENCENSUS IS GOING TO BE CONDUCTED ONLINE OR PART OF IT IS GOING TO BE CONDUCTED ONLINE.

ARE THE PEOPLE WHO TEND TO NOT RESPOND IS THE PEOPLE LEAST CONNECTED TO THE WEB.

THE ADD VAVANTAGE OF BEING OE IS MUCH EASIER FOR PEOPLE TO FILL THE CENSUS OUT.

YOU LITERALLY ARE ABLE TO TAKE YOUR PHONE OUT AND IN TWO MINUTES YOU'RE DONE FILLING OUT THE CENSUS.

WE ALSO GAVE A GRANT OF $1.5 MILLION TO THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM, SO ALL 219 BRANCHES WILL HAVE COMPUTER TERMINALS, EXTRA STAFF, OPEN EXTRA HOURS.

SO, THIRD THIRD OF NEW YORKERS WHO DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO BROAD BAND, THEY'LL BE ABLE TO GO TO A LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY OR MANY OTHER LOCATIONS.

SO, THE NEGATIVE TO ONLINE IS JUST THAT, A THIRD OF NEW YORKERS DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO BROAD BAND SO THAT PRESENTS CERTAIN CHALLENGES.

WE THINK WE'VE ADDRESSED THEM BY PARTNERING WITH LIBRARIES, PARTNERING WITH FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS, COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, AND EQUIPPING THEM WITH RESOURCES AND TOOLS THEY NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE CAN FILL THE CENSUS OUT.

WHAT ABOUT THE CONCERN THAT SOME MAY HAVE ABOUT DATA BREACH THAT HAS HAPPENED TO BIG COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS, THE INFORMATION WILL BE HACKED AND PERSONAL INFORMATION WILL BE COMPROMISED.

RIGHT.

AND OF COURSE THAT IS A CONCERN.

THAT IS WHY THERE ARE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN FILL THE CENSUS OUT.

IF YOU WANT TO FILL IT OUT IN THE OLD FASHIONED PAPER FORM, YOU CAN DO THAT.

THEY ALSO HAVE A PHONE OPTION.

THERE WILL BE A 1-800 NUMBER TO CALL TO FILL IT OUT IF THEY DON'T WANT TO FILL IT OUT ONLINE.

THE CENSUS IS TEN QUESTIONS.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT LARGELY HAS THIS INFORMATION ALREADY ON EVERYONE.

SO, NOW THAT THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION -- WE WON THE CASE AND THAT IS OFF, THESE QUESTIONS ARE LARGELY INFORMATION THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS.

SO, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT.

THE NUMBER OF TIMES A DAY WHERE I HEAR THE FOLLOWING REFRAIN, PEOPLE SAY I'M NOT GOING TO FILL THE CENSUS OUT BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO GIVE MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

THE CENSUS DOESN'T ASK YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

PEOPLE SAY I DON'T WANT TO FILL THE CENSUS OUT BECAUSE I'M NOT GOING TO DISCLOSE MY INCOME.

IT DOESN'T ASK YOUR INCOME.

IT ASKS QUESTIONS SUCH AS YOUR NAME, YOUR ADDRESS, WHETHER YOU RENT OR OWN YOUR HOME, HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE IN THAT RESIDENCE.

THOSE ARE THE TYPES OF QUESTIONS.

SOME OF THAT INFORMATION IS ALREADY PUBLIC.

EXACTLY.

SOME OF IT IS ALREADY PUBLIC AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ALREADY HAS A LOT OF THAT INFORMATION.

AND WE'VE GOT TO REMEMBER IF PEOPLE DON'T FILL IT OUT, WHAT'S AT STAKE?

LOSING ALL OF THIS VITAL FUNDING THAT WE RELY ON.

ALSO, I SHOULD ADD THE CENSUS IS LEGALLY AND COMPLETELY PROTECTED BY TITLE 13 OF THE U.S. CODE.

IT'S 100% CONFIDENCE Y'ALL.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CANNOT SHARE THAT INFORMATION EVEN WITH THE CITY GOVERNMENT.

SOMETIMES PEOPLE SAY I DON'T WANT TO DISCLOSE MY INFORMATION BECAUSE WE HAVE AN ILLEGAL BASEMENT.

THE CITY CAN'T GET THAT INFORMATION FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

HOW CLOSELY ARE YOU WORKING WITH THE STATE ON THIS EFFORT?

THE STATE ALLOCATED $20 MILLION STATEWIDE, THE STATE HAS ALLOCATED $40 MILLION CITY WIDE.

WE HAVE A VERY GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FOLKS AT THE STATE GOVERNMENT WHO ARE CONDUCTING THE CENSUS EFFORT.

AS YOU KNOW THERE ARE CRITICS WHO SAY THE STATE IS NOT DEALING WITH THIS ISSUE WITH THE SAME KIND OF URGENCY THAT THE CITY IS.

FIRST OF ALL IT'S ALLOCATING HALF THE MONEY THAT THE CITY IS ALLOCATING AND IT'S TAKING TOO LONG TO DEVISE THE STEPS IT TENDS TO TAKE.

FAIR CRITICISM?

WE THINK IT'S A CRISIS AROUND THE ISSUE.

THAT'S WHY WE JUMPED ON THE ISSUE FROM THE GET GO.

WE BELIEVE THAT TIME -- EVERY DAY THAT GOES BY THAT WE'RE NOT OUT THERE IN THE FIELD IS A DAY THAT PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND REALLY WHAT'S AT TAKE.

SO, WE JUMPED ON THIS ISSUE IMMEDIATELY.

WE THINK IT'S INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT, AND WE REALLY WANT TO REVERSE THE TREND OF WHAT HAPPENED IN 2000 AND 2010 AND BOOST OUR SELF-RESPONSE NUMBERS.

WHAT I LIKE TO SAY TO EVERY SKM COMMUNITY IS IF THEY CAN BEAT THEIR 2010 NUMBER, THAT'S A SUCCESS.

WE LIST EVERY SINGLE NEIGHBORHOOD, HOW THEY DID IN 2010, AND THEN YOU CAN CLICK ON YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ON THE INTERACTIVE MAP AND JOIN YOUR LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZING COMMITTEE WHICH WE PROVIDE TRAINING AND RESOURCES TO.

ARE THERE PARTICULAR NEIGHBORHOODS OR COMMUNITIES THAT ARE YOU ARE TARGETING WITH THEIR EFFORTS BECAUSE THEY TEND TO BE UNDERCOUNTED?

ABSOLUTELY.

THERE ARE CERTAIN HARD TO COUNT NEIGHBORHOODS, CERTAINLY IN CENTRAL BROOKLYN.

THE RESPONSE RATES IN MANY COMMUNITIES IN CENTRAL BROOKLYN WERE HIGH 40s, LOW 50s.

BROOKLYN IS A BUREAU.

THEIR SELF-RESPONSE RATE WAS 55.5%. THE NATIONAL AVERAGE IS 76%. SO, WE CAN AND WE MUST DO BETTER.

SO, WE ARE ABSOLUTELY FOCUSED ON A NUMBER OF HARD TO COUNT NEIGHBORHOODS.

BUT QUITE FRANKLY WE NEED EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD IN NEW YORK CITY TO DO BETTER BECAUSE IF EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD DOES BETTER WE'RE GOING TO LIFT THE OVERALL SELF-RESPONSE RATE SIGNIFICANTLY.

WHAT'S THE TIME LINE?

WHEN SHOULD OUR VIEWERS EXPECT TO BEGIN THE PROCESS?

SO, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL SEND EVERYONE THE FIRST MAILING ON MARCH 12th.

YOU'LL SEE IT IN THE MAIL AND YOU CAN RESPOND BY PHONE.

YOU CAN RESPOND ONLINE, OR THERE WILL BE AN OPTION TO DO THE PAPER FORM.

THAT GOES THROUGH MAY.

THEY WILL SEND FOUR ADDITIONAL REMINDERS IF YOU DIDN'T FILL IT OUT.

AND THEN COME MAY, A FEDERAL DOOR KNOCKER WILL KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR.

THAT'S A FAILURE.

WE DON'T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN.

WE WANT ALL NEW YORKERS TO FILL THE CENSUS OUT WHEN THEY FIRST HEAR ABOUT IT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THIS VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

Funders

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