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Schenectady mayor taps Complete Count Committee to drive U.S. Census awareness

Schenectady mayor taps Complete Count Committee to drive U.S. Census awareness

Low turnout will lead to fewer federal resources
Schenectady mayor taps Complete Count Committee to drive U.S. Census awareness
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHENECTADY — The mayor has tapped a committee designed to ensure all city residents are counted as part of the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census.

The city's Complete Count Committee is comprised of local leaders and community organizations. 

“We hope to utilize the local knowledge and expertise of each member of our committee in order to best implement a census awareness campaign, the success of which will require the involvement of every member of our community,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy in a released statement. “We must ensure Schenectady counts.”

Wide chunks of the city have been issued “low response scores” by the U.S. Census Bureau, including downtown, Mont Pleasant, Hamilton Hill and Upper State Street.

Children under 5, homeless and transient populations, college students, undocumented immigrants, minorities and the poor are particularly prone to slipping through the cracks. 

Census data underpins how legislative districts are drawn and how $675 billion in federal funding for housing, education, transportation, employment training, health care and social service programs are disseminated at the local level. 

An undercounted population means the city and county will receive fewer federal resources, officials said. 

Results can also be skewed when wealthy people have a higher rate of response in a given census tract than the poor, resulting in a lack of funding for clinics, schools, roads and bridges, child care and other programs.

“Marginalized communities will suffer if residents go uncounted,” said Schenectady NAACP President Dr. Odo Butler in a released statement. 

Larry Spring, Superintendent of Schenectady City School District, said information and data collected will impact federal funding that the district receives for “training, technology and programming.”

“It also provides critical information that we use for forecasting enrollment and critical planning in our district,” Spring said. 

The city’s Complete Count Committee is co-chaired by Pastor William Levering of the First Reformed Church and Pastor William Hamilton of the Friendship Baptist Church. 

Local officials, educational institutions and faith-based organizations also sit on the committee, as well as neighborhood associations and community groups, including Schenectady United Neighborhoods (SUN), Schenectady NAACP and the Guyanese American Association of Schenectady, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

Tom Carey, president of SUN, said the upcoming census may be the most important ever for the city’s neighborhoods.

“But the risk of an undercount is also greater than ever thanks to increased reliance on the internet and fewer census workers,” Carey said in a statement.

Findings and recommendations released in October by the state Complete Count Commission, which held 10 public hearings, found that the 2020 Census faces “unprecedented challenges.” 

While the Trump Administration failed in its effort to include a citizenship question, its attempt to do so “spread fear among immigrant communities,” according to the governor’s office.

As a result, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged the state will spend as much as $60 million to make sure that every New Yorker is counted. 

In order to drum up awareness ahead of Census Day on April 1, the city’s Complete Count Committee will host events and distribute census-related information to the community

Schenectady residents should be on the lookout for a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau in mid-March with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online by phone or by mail.

Census taker positions currently available in Schenectady County offer a pay rate of $20 per hour. Interested residents can visit www.2020census.gov/jobs to apply.

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