City awards $19 million in census funds to community outreach programs, many in Queens

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Chhaya CDC, a Jackson Heights- and Richmond Hill-based organization is one of the winning groups that will share the $19 million Complete Count Fund, the city’s first-ever community awards program focused on census-related education and organizing.

This joint investment by the de Blasio administration and the City Council represents the lion’s of the city’s $40 million going toward census mobilization, the largest investment by any city nationwide, and larger than those made by most states.

The fund is designed to to resource and train organizations to build awareness about the census, convey its importance, and fight the spread of disinformation. The census, conducted every 10 years, is used to determine New York City’s fair share of $650 billion in federal funds for public education, public housing, representation in Congress, electoral votes, and more.

“We will fight the fear and disinformation by those forces that want to rob us of the resources and representation that are rightfully ours by investing in community-based organizing, a model we know that works,” de Blasio said. “Neighbors will empower neighbors to stand up and be counted. New York City will not be intimidated.”

The selected organizations are uniquely positioned to help bridge the digital divide that might prevent many New Yorkers from participating in next year’s census, which will be online for the first time.

“We have to get this right,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. “This is a once-in-a-decade chance to make sure we get the federal resources we deserve. Every New Yorker counts. This is an investment in our future.”

More than 150 community organizations across the five boroughs will share in awards ranging from $15,000 to $250,000 and they will be required to both expand capacity and engage in direct mobilization around the census from January through June of 2020.

“Having seen a ‘loss’ of more than 10,000 western Queens residents in the last census, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get yourself counted,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “Community-based organizations are New York City’s first responders, who ensure everyone is protected, accounted for, and served.”

New York City is a huge and complex environment with immense linguistic and cultural identity coupled with fear and misinformation tied to the 2020 Census, the city is presented with unique challenges.

“Based on data collected during the 2010 census, over two-thirds of the people in our district live in hard-to-count neighborhoods,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said. “It is among my top priorities to make sure our hardworking neighbors are properly accounted for during the 2020 census so that we can provide the infrastructure, programs and resources Queens residents of all ages currently need and will benefit from in the future.”

Other community-based organizations in Queens that were selected include the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, DRUM, HANAC Inc., Jacob A, Riis Neighborhood Settlement, Queens Community House, Woodside on the Move and Make the Road New York.

“Immigrant communities and communities of color who we represent are often the hardest to count and require concerted outreach from trusted messengers to achieve a full, fair count,” Make the Road New York Deputy Director Theo Oshiro said. “Over the last month, we have had conversations with more than a thousand community members about the census, helped answer their questions, and got them to commit to responding to the census. We look forward to educating thousands more community members across New York City.”