In their fervent bid to encourage Caribbean and other nationals to participate in the 2020 Census, Brooklyn Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie and Assembly Member Diana Richardson recently hosted the first gathering of a Census Complete Count Committee at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College.
Myrie, who represents the 20th Assembly District in Brooklyn, said the Complete Count Committees are volunteer committees established by local governments, community leaders and organizations to “increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 Census.”
“A lot of the problems our community faces, from the lack of resources for affordable housing, the lack of resources for education, and so much more, can be traced to our being undercounted in the Census,” said Myrie whose parents hail from Costa Rica and who traces his roots to Jamaica, adding that “10 years of our community’s future will be determined by less than 10 questions.
“A lot of people ask me what the solutions are to the problems our community faces,” he continued. “If there’s one thing we all need to do to address our problems, it is to get everyone counted in the 2020 Census.”
In the meeting, Myrie said he, Richardson — who represents the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn and whose parents hail from St. Martin and Aruba — and committee members discussed the challenges to achieving a full count in Brooklyn and how they can be overcome.
The senator said 80 percent of Brooklynites live in “hard-to-count neighborhoods.”
According to the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Brooklyn had the lowest mail return rate in the country among counties with populations of 500,000 or more.
Myrie noted that billions of dollars in federal funds for the programs that many Brooklynites depend on are determined by the census.
In 2016, he said New York received $73 billion in federal funds for programs like Medicaid, SNAP and Section 8 housing.
“If residents in Brooklyn are undercounted in 2020, the borough could lose funds for these programs,” Myrie warned. “Community organizations and local leaders are the most trusted and effective voices on why the Census is important.
“Complete Count Committees are designed to serve as state and local ‘census ambassador’ groups that play an integral part in ensuring a complete and accurate count of the community in the 2020 Census,” he added.
Myrie said the committee includes representatives of more than 20 organizations.
They comprise: Mixteca Organization; KAVI; Brownsville Community Justice Center; 67th Clergy Council (God Squad); Office the Brooklyn Borough President; SCO Family of Services; Ebbets Field Tenants Organization; The Campaign Against Hunger; Brooklyn Legal Services; DOE District 15; CAMBA; and Brooklyn Community Board 9.
They others are: SUNY Downstate; Churches United for Fair Housing; Brooklyn Children’s Museum; West Indian Day Carnival Association; DOE District 17; Brooklyn Children’s Museum; Brooklyn Museum; Chinese American Planning Council; Center for Law & Social Justice, Medgar Evers College; Lasante Health Center; US Census Bureau; and United for Brownsville.