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Politics and Government

For more accurate count, NY advocates say additional $20 million needed for 2020 census

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO Public Media
Advocates for more funding for census outreach in Syracuse.

The New York State budget allocates $20 million in funding to reach marginalized communities for the 2020 census. But that’s only half the amount of funding community groups say is needed to achieve a more accurate count of the population.

Abdul Saboor works for InterFaith Works in Syracuse, a refugee resettlement organization. He said since 2010, 8,000 refugees have immigrated to Syracuse and many of them don’t understand the census and never went through the process in their own countries.

“I come from a country in south Asia, Afghanistan, and we’ve never participated in any census," Saboor said. "There’s definitely a lack of information, lack of knowledge about census, why it’s important, let alone, going about navigating through the system and making sure they complete the forms accurately, they respond to the questions.”

More than 100 organizations across the state are members of New York Counts 2020, which is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to add more funding so community-based groups can help hard-to-count populations like refugees, immigrants, and low-wage workers, fill out the census. Fabiola Ortiz Valdez is with the New York Immigration Coalition.

“We’re already working with those folks, we’re doing community events and education, and we’re already drive to farms to do know-your-rights work,” Ortiz Valdez said.

The 2020 census is also the first one that allows everyone to fill it out online, and could include a controversial citizenship question. An accurate count is important because congressional representation, as well as funding for Medicaid, food benefits and schools is at stake.