Local, State Officials Join Rep. Tonko In Albany To Push For A Full Census Count | WAMC

Local, State Officials Join Rep. Tonko In Albany To Push For A Full Census Count

Sep 3, 2019

Representative Paul Tonko continues to press for a fair and accurate census count of New York's 20th congressional district.

Tonko, a Democrat, spoke Tuesday in Albany, with the 2020 Census looming:   "U.S. Census officials are predicting an undercount, a severe undercount, for the Capital Region community. That's based on an analysis where they're indicating that  perhaps more than one third of the Capital Region residents may not be counted. And they're focusing on communities, local communities like Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Amsterdam at perhaps being at the greatest risk."

Mayor Kathy Sheehan says she can't stress enough the importance of the census.   "The city of Albany in Albany County is really an outlier in with respect to low response rates. We know, based on what happened in the last census, that it is going to take a tremendous amount of community effort to ensure that everyone is counted. We also have a high proportion of vulnerable population. people who are afraid that, if they respond to the census, it could result in some consequence for themselves, and so educating people, making sure that they understand that the information that is provided in the census, cannot be use, it is illegal to use it, for any other purpose than counting."

Sheehan says dollars distributed on the federal level for roads and schools are calculated by population count.   "This is how we get resources for our city. This is how we ensure that we're represented in Congress. And it's estimated that for every person not counted it costs the state $2000 a year."

Jim Malatras co-chairs the bipartisan New York State Complete Count Commission. He says undercounts are typical in communities of color and foreign-born communities.  "We want to expand internet access to all communities and digital literacy. Working with our libraries and our state agencies, particularly the Department of Labor, is gonna open up all of their job career centers for people to fill out the census."

Jeff Behler is the Census Bureau's New York Regional Office Director.  "Right now we're recruiting for the jobs in the area. $17 an hour. How to apply? You just go to 2020census.gov/jobs. This is a great job for a student. For people who just want to earn some extra income. You don't have to quit your 40 hour a week job. You can work nights and weekends and be extremely successful. Even though the census ia a national event, it has to be conducted at the local level, that's why we have to hire people to work in their own neighborhoods, who speak the languages of their community residents who understand the culture. So please help us get the word out there that we're recruiting right now, for great jobs throughout the area."

Behler says the census will be hiring 450,000 people nationwide to knock on doors starting in mid-May.

Counting begins in mid-March and continues through the end of July.