Op-Ed – Time’s up: It’s now or never for the New York City’s future

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By Julie Menin, director of NYC Census 2020 

New York City is facing an unprecedented, multi-layered political, economic, and public health crisis like none other it has faced in the past.

After being the global epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis for months, we are left with an economy that is a shell of its recent self, and we are rudderless in terms of the sorely needed federal response to our public health and economic crises.

As Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1 in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I saw first-hand the unthinkable devastation wrought by the last disaster in our city’s history, and l can assure you — at least as far as the economy is concerned, our current straits are seriously dire.

We’re going to need the boldest thinking, the thickest elbow grease, and, let’s face it, a serious infusion of cash if we’re going to rebuild and recover from the calamity that has been COVID-19.

While there’s sure to be interminable debate and partisan political infighting that will needlessly complicate the otherwise straightforward conversation about what we need into the future, there’s a faucet that turns on every year, year after year, that pours forth $1.5 trillion in federal dollars for education, housing, healthcare, job training, transportation, infrastructure and more — the things we need money for — all based a few facts and figures.

What are those facts and figures? Census data.

Census data — how many we are, where we are, basic information about who we are (ages, genders, and the like) is the basis on which this faucet either flows freely or drips dryly for New York City. If we don’t have a complete and accurate count in the census this year, we’re simply not going to get the resources to which we are not only entitled, but also that we will desperately for our recovery into the future.

Achieving a complete census count will take nothing short of an unprecedented movement to ensure New Yorkers know their rights, know what’s at stake, and know what we need to shape our future. Fortunately, these efforts are already underway. In fact, we’re mobilizing volunteers in communities across the five boroughs every day between July 27 and Aug. 2 as part of our new Census Week of Action. From social media outreach to texting, phone-banking and socially distanced canvassing, there are countless ways to help make sure that our communities get the full funding, resources and recognition that we rightfully deserve. You can sign up now to join our effort at nyc.gov/censusweek.

With our groundbreaking census campaign, we’ve been fighting for a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers since last year. Now, in the final days before the U.S. Census Bureau sends its folks knocking on doors across our city, we are making it clear to all New Yorkers: self-respond before you miss your chance to do your part for your city.

Making Sense of the Census” is a weekly column from Julie Menin, director of NYC Census 2020. Every week we will be publishing pieces from Julie and guest authors laying out the facts and answering tough questions about this year’s census. Fill out the census now at my2020census.gov.

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