Thousands mobilized to urge NYC residents to respond to 2020 Census

New York City has launched a campaign to mobilize all households to respond to the census because of the alarmingly low response rate generated so far.

Dubbed the #GetCountedNYC Census Week of Action, it aims to significantly increase New York City’s self-response rate which was at 54% as of July 27.

This is being done in order to have a complete and accurate count and stave off the potential loss of billions in federal aid for critical programs. It could also affect political representation both in Congress and in Albany, and would result in losing up to two congressional seats in the midst of the worst economic crisis in a century,

In the northeast, New York City ranks fifth among the large cities with its 54% self-response rate. Manchester in New Hampshire and Springfield and Lowell in Massachusetts lead the pack so far. NYC’s rate is lower than the state and country averages, which are 57.9% and 62.3% respectively.

Among the Asian groups, Filipinos posted 51.3% self-response rate, behind Korean, Pakistani and Chinese.

“At its core, the census is about the fair distribution of money, power, and respect to every community based on a demonstration of strength in numbers – and when it comes to our Asian-American communities, if there are no numbers, there’s no strength,” said Amit Singh Bagga, Deputy Director, NYC Census 2020. “When it comes to how $1.5 trillion in federal funds and congressional seats are allocated across the country, we are not going to be fooled by the hate-driven sideshow of ethical bankruptcy in Washington – we will be showing up, we will be participating in the census, we will be making sure decisions about us are being made with us.”

From July 27 to August 2, NYC Census 2020 and its partners have planned a week of activities citywide to mobilize New Yorkers to self-respond to the 2020 Census. 500 New Yorkers have already signed up to volunteer and New Yorkers can continue to join the effort at

NYC Census 2020 and over 150 volunteers will hold in-person census outreach events across the five boroughs in transit hubs, parks, playgrounds, small business corridors, and other key public areas in areas with historically low self-response rates.

Last week, the Asian Pacific American Complete Count Committee (APA CCC) hosted a briefing to detail the urgent steps being taken to mobilize more Asian New Yorkers to complete their census forms.

This means participation and promotion in local activities, parades, social messaging campaigns, and Census Mobile Questionnaire Assistance events.

Asian New Yorkers are responding at a lower rate than other groups in the city, even as New York City’s 2020 Census self-response rate continues to lag behind state and national averages.

Neighborhoods in the city with high Asian populations have posted participation rates lower than the city’s average, at 52.4%.

At the briefing, Census experts from a wide range of agencies and advocacy organizations reiterated the causes behind the low rate of participation in the 2020 Census, including language access, computer literacy, and distrust of the government.

They also noted that the Trump administration’s latest attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the counts used to determine how many congressional seats each state will receive had no constitutional basis. They emphasized that there was no question about citizenship or immigration status on the 2020 Census and all personal data collected by the census cannot be shared with anyone outside of the Census Bureau, including other federal, state and local government agencies.

Through coordinated efforts by the Census Bureau, NYC Census 2020, and community-based organizations across the city, more Asian New Yorkers will be mobilized to self-respond and advocate for their fair share of resources and representation.

The Census Week of Action is timed to increase New York City’s self-response rate immediately prior to the launch of the U.S. Census Bureau’s door-to-door enumeration, which has historically proven to be deeply flawed and unreliable in New York City.

Starting August 11, the Census Bureau will send enumerators to homes that have not yet responded. The APACCC briefing outlined the coordinated efforts across the city taking place from until August 11th to mobilize more Asian New Yorkers to complete their forms and ensure that the city and the communities get counted and get the highways, hospitals, public safety services, and representation they deserve.

The census determines the equitable distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funds annually for education, healthcare, housing, transportation, infrastructure, and more, in addition to determining the number of seats each state is allotted in the House of Representatives, as well as the shape and size of local and state legislative districts.

NYC Census 2020 is an initiative established by Mayor Bill de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census.

For the online form, go to and click the globe for translated forms in Tagalog, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and 8 other non-Asian languages. Additional language guides in 59 different languages are available at

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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