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Lost in the count

The loss of 2,000 residents of Howard Beach in the most recent census numbers could also mean the loss of important federal dollars; the basis for local leaders contesting the count.
“[The numbers] will affect basically every aspect of people’s lives,” said Betty Bratton, Chair of Community Board 10. “It’s the borough of Queens in total, as well. They are only showing growth in the couple of thousands. It defies the logic of anyone living here.”
Released in March, the total population count in Howard Beach was listed at 26,148, an almost seven percent drop from the data collected for the 2000 census. An alleged undercount could determine future redistricting, less funding for projects involving infrastructure and development and the loss of a congressional seat.
“Less representation in Washington would hurt when it comes to advocating for specific issues,” said Senator Joe Addabbo, who strenuously objected to the population count in Howard Beach. “It’s unfortunate. I know the money that was spent to get these census numbers. Now, it looks like a waste.”
Addabbo’s frustration was echoed by Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who said he was disappointed by the census figures and the overall lack of participation that was reported by Queens’ residents.
“My office went to great lengths to help people understand the importance of the 2010 Census in relation to making sure that our communities receive the proper funding for essential services,” said Ulrich. “Given the construction boom that has taken place over the past decade, the determination that Queens gained a little more than 1,300 residents would be laughable if it didn’t come with such serious consequences.”
Community leaders have attributed that lack of participation to undocumented immigrants unwilling to give their personal information in fear of future consequences.
“There is a segment of the population that was weary to answering the census questions. This was merely a head count so we get our rightful services and fair share of funding,” said Addabbo.
While Addabbo agrees that the issue of an undercount in Howard Beach will most likely be a bitterly swallowed pill without any proof of negligence, he does not plan on being silent on the topic.
“We don’t have to stand on the sideline and do nothing. I will join my colleagues and say that these numbers are erroneous.”
The city will formally challenge the census population count in June.

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