The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed CIANA’s dedication to getting a complete count in the 2020 Census, but it has slowed down self-response. A month after Census Day, Queens’ self-response rate is, as of writing, hovering around 45%. This is considerably lower than the nationwide average of 56.8%. New York State recently achieved self-response from slightly over half its population, currently resting at 51.1%, according to self-response maps for hard-to-count populations from both CUNY and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Self-response is drastically lower in neighborhoods such as Corona, where the virus has hit especially hard.
The Census may understandably not seem like a priority in the face of a global pandemic, especially to those experiencing the worst of it. 1.8 million foreign-born New Yorkers are on the front lines as essential workers. Many others have lost their jobs and sources of income. A large percentage of both groups do not have health insurance. Catching the coronavirus is a much more tangible concern than the Census for them and their families.
CIANA’s clients are among these individuals and families, which is why CIANA is continuing to provide the same services we did before social distancing measures went into effect. We now offer online English classes for adults and elementary school tutoring, and our case management team provides assistance and referrals for housing, public benefits, and healthcare enrollment.
The Census ties into all of this. Over $650 billion in federal funding will be allotted to fund schools, hospitals, Medicare, and other public services. CIANA helps its clients access these resources, and the Census ensures that there are enough of these resources to fulfill the needs of the community.
This is why we keep reminding the community through calls and texts about how important filling out the Census is, and COVID-19 should motivate them to do so.
The Census self-response deadline has been extended to October 31, having been moved from mid-May- just about a week from now. The curve of COVID-19 cases is slowly but steadily flattening in New York. We hope in the coming weeks and months, more of our clients and community members will see the value of the Census, enabling us to get a higher-than-ever immigrant count.
Remember- if you've already completed the Census, let us know here!