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City of Schenectady launches census participation initiative

City of Schenectady launches census participation initiative

Responses help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding gets allocated
City of Schenectady launches census participation initiative
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHENECTADY -- It’s not too late to submit your census data to the federal government.

Even though Census Day was held Wednesday, the city will continue its aggressive campaign to drive turnout.

To drum up participation, Mayor Gary McCarthy has ordered city staff to contact their friends, neighbors and relatives urging them to respond to the count, which the U.S. conducts every 10 years.

Participation is crucial: Billions of dollars in federal funding for a variety of programs and services, including education, health care, emergency planning and affordable housing are at stake.

Allocation of those funds is based on how many residents within a municipality participate in the count: a lower response rate means a lower level of funding.

The city had a response rate of 60.6 percent in 2010, according to the mayor’s office.

McCarthy’s goal is to reach 80 percent by May 30.

As of Tuesday, the city’s response rate is 27.9 percent.

Census Day marks the beginning of the count, and is not a deadline.

“During these difficult times, I am asking all Schenectady residents to respond to the 2020 Census either online, by phone, or by mail,” said McCarthy in a released statement.

Instructions for how to respond have been sent out for weeks by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Residents should be familiar with literature appearing in their mailboxes, from postcards to more detailed sets of instructions.

While canvassers had been scheduled to hit the streets this spring for in-person surveys, their exact schedule has been disrupted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“As more households self-respond online, by phone, or by mail, this will minimize the number of households that census takers must visit in-person,” McCarthy said.

The Census does not ask for immigration status, Social Security numbers, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party or for your bank or credit card account numbers, according to the state Department of State, which has mounted a similar push.

The city’s aggressive effort to drive turnout comes as the federal government is set to allocate a COVID-19 relief package.

McCarthy signed on to a letter from the United States Conference of Mayors to members of Congress supporting direct emergency assistance to cities as part of that effort.

To respond online, visit 2020census.gov.

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