EDITORIAL: There’s a lot at stake with the census

New Yorkers could lose out on their share of funding for hundreds of federal programs if people don't fill out census forms
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Categories: Editorial, Opinion

Ever play the game, “Hungry Hungry Hippos” when you were a kid?

You roll a bunch of marbles around a bowl in the middle, and each kid frantically pounds on the tail of his or her hippo trying to gobble up as many marbles as they can.

The one who gets the most marbles wins.

That’s how the census game is played.

It’s all about gathering up the most marbles.

If you’re too slow, or if you take a bite and miss, if you’re not paying attention, or if you just don’t push your hippo’s tail at all, someone else gets your marbles.

Only in the case of the census, the prize isn’t marbles — it’s virtually everything else that’s important to the people in our state and our local communities.

And if we don’t fill out the census, if we don’t bother to take the few minutes it actually takes to complete the simple form, if we ignore the notices we get to fill out the census because we’re too lazy, too apathetic, or fearful of Big Brother having too much information, we lose.

The price is significant.

At stake is federal representation, which determines which states have the most power and influence in Congress, where decisions on federal spending are made.

The more representatives a state has based on its population, the more votes it has in Congress and the more influence the delegation has with other states to get what they need.

The census is also used to apportion state legislative districts, which determines who represents us in Albany and how much financial help we get from state government.

But we were talking marbles. Just what are the actual marbles at stake, and who’s affected?

A complete and accurate census count is vital to minorities and indigent families; to the elderly and children; for our health facilities; for our roads and bridges; for our sewer and water infrastructure; for our environment; for our schools; and to state and local taxes.

If New York’s population is undercounted, then for the next decade we’re at a disadvantage when it comes to funding for those important programs and projects.

Don’t let some other state’s residents get what we’re entitled to.

Complete your the census form.

Do it now.

If we don’t get on this right this year, we’ll have to wait 10 years for another opportunity.

You can fill out the census by mail, phone or online. It literally only takes a few minutes to fill out.

If you didn’t get a form in the mail or if you lost yours, visit https://2020census.gov/.


Still not convinced you need to do this? 

You want specifics about why it’s so important?

OK.

According to the Census Bureau, here’s a list of projects for fiscal year 2015 that were funded using census data.

Ready? 

Medical Assistance Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Medicare Part B Physicians Fee Schedule Services; Highway Planning and Construction; Federal Pell Grant Program; National School Lunch Program; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher; Title 1 Grants to Local Educational Agencies; Special Education Grants to States; Head Start; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; Federal Transit Formula Grants; Foster Care Title IV-E; Child Care Mandatory and Matching Funds of the Child Care and Development Fund; Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program; State Children’s Health Insurance Program; School Breakfast Program; Low-Income Home Energy Assistance; Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grants; Unemployment Insurance; Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants; Adoption Assistance; Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Crime Victim Assistance; Community Development Block Grants/Entitlement Grants; Block Grants for Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse; Social Services Block Grant; Federal Transit Capital Investment Grants; Career and Technical Education – Basic Grants to States; WIA Dislocated Workers; Home Investment Partnerships Program; Rural Rental Assistance Payments; WIA/WIOA Adult Program; WIA/WIOA Youth Activities; English Language Acquisition Grants; Wildlife Restoration; Public Housing Capital Fund; Community Development Block Grants/State’s Program and Non-Entitlement Grants; Child and Adult Care Food Program; HIV Emergency Relief Project Grants; Formula Grants for Rural Areas; Adult Education — Basic Grants to States; Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant to the States; Block Grants for Community Mental Health Services; Capital Assistance Program for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities; Special Education Grants for Infants and Families; Water and Waste Disposal Systems for Rural Communities; Cooperative Extension Service; Senior Community Service Employment Program; Indian Housing Block Grants; Special Education Preschool Grants; Americorps; Assistance to Firefighters Grant; Emergency Food Assistance Program (Food Commodities); Emergency Shelter Grants Program; Child Welfare Services State Grants; Community Facilities Loans and Grants; Payments to Agricultural Experiment Stations Under the Hatch Act; National Motor Carrier Safety; Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS; Weatherization Assistance for Low-Income Persons; Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP); Rural Education Grants to States; State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program; Violence Against Women Formula Grants; Supportive Housing for the Elderly; Federal Transit Metropolitan Planning Grants; Fire Management Assistance Grant; Nonpoint Source Implementation Grants; Small Business Development Centers; Developmental Disabilities Basic Support and Advocacy Grants; Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants; Family Violence Prevention and Services/Grants for Battered Women’s Shelters Grants to States and Indian Tribes; Emergency Food Assistance Program (Administrative Costs); Economic Adjustment Assistance; Water Pollution Control State, Interstate, and Tribal Program Support; Cooperative Agreement to Support Navigators in Federally Facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces; Coastal Zone Management Administration Awards; Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness; Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program; Basic Center Grant; State Wildlife Grants Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants (Section 306C); State Public Water System Supervision; Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities; Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Grants; Payments to 1890 Land-Grant Colleges; Promotion of the Arts Partnership Agreements; Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Allocation to States; Abstinence Education Program; Native American Employment and Training; Promotion of the Humanities Federal/State Partnership; Hazardous Waste Management State Program Support; Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness; Historic Preservation Fund Grants-in-Aid; State Energy Program; Emergency Watershed Protection Program; Rural Business Enterprise Grants; Supported Employment Services for Individuals with Significant Disabilities; Special Programs for the Aging Title VI, Part A; Grants to Indian Tribes Part B; Grants to Native Hawaiians; Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Assistance Program; Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program; Hunter Education and Safety Program; Children’s Justice Grants to States; Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant; Special Programs for the Aging Title VII, Chapter 2 Long Term Care Ombudsman Services for Older Individuals; Child Care and Development Block Grant; Emergency Community and Water Assistance Grants; Rehabilitation Services; Client Assistance Program; Urban Indian Health Services; Beach Monitoring and Notification Program Implementation Grants; Rural Cooperative Development Grants; State Clean Diesel Grant Program; Community Development Block Grants/Special Purpose Grants/Insular Areas; Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities – Grants for Protection and Advocacy Systems; Special Programs for the Aging Title VII, Chapter 3 Programs for Prevention of Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation; State Underground Water Source Protection; State Grants for Protection and Advocacy Services; Independent Living State Grants; Juvenile Accountability Block Grants; Rural Housing Preservation Grants; Job Access Reverse Commute Grant Program to Establish a Fund for Financing Water and Wastewater Projects; National Fire Plan – Wildland Urban Interface Community; Fire Assistance; Title V Delinquency Prevention Program; Special Milk Program for Children.

That’s a hell of a lot of marbles.

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