Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced that Nassau County leads New York in self-responses to the Census online, by phone or mail. According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau as of May 22, 65.7 percent of Nassau County residents have responded to the Census, the highest percentage collected statewide to date.
Although the county has demonstrated significant progress compared to a decade ago, Curran highlighted disparities in response rates in predominantly black and brown communities as a remaining concern. Speaking at Nassau’s Office of Hispanic Affairs, Curran noted that the Village of Hempstead had a 47 percent response rate, a figure which can still be improved before the new Oct. 31 deadline for self-responses. Pointing to COVID-19’s devastating impact on communities of color and Nassau’s urgent need for federal funding, Curran announced a renewed, multi-lingual public awareness campaign urging residents to respond to the Census.
“When it comes to the Census, the stakes have never been higher for Nassau,” Curran said. “I’m renewing our push to encourage every resident who calls Nassau home to Complete The Count. This Census is about more than just ensuring we finally get our fair share of federal government dollars when we need it most. The next five months are a once-in-a-decade opportunity for us to directly combat the inequities this crisis has laid bare.”
In 2010, 75 percent of county residents self-responded to the Census after the initial questionnaire was mailed to households. An undercount of a region’s population results in a reduction of funding for schools, infrastructure, health care services and economic development for an entire decade. The U.S. Census Bureau had calculated Nassau as the fifth “hardest-to-count” county in New York State because of its high proportion of traditionally undercounted groups, such as communities of color, immigrants, children under 5 and renters.
In February 2019, Curran took action by launching the Complete County Committee (CCC). In partnership with Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, CCC engaged key constituencies to increase awareness and motivate residents to complete the Census. Subcommittees focused on outreach to businesses, local government, seniors, early childhood providers, education, faith based outreach, people of color and immigrants.
The county held several Census job fairs and internal initiatives promoting the Census. Curran mobilized the Offices of Hispanic Affairs, Asian-American Affairs, and Office of Minority Affairs in particular to lead outreach efforts across communities in Nassau. Since early 2019, Curran has led a public awareness push highlighting the importance of the Census through press conferences, press statements, video PSAs (English and Spanish), workshops, an info panel, millennial chat and public testimony.
The census is used to fund $675 billion in federal programs, including for hospitals, roads and bridges, public schools, disaster assistance, food assistance (including SNAP and the National School Lunch Program), Section 8 Housing, Head Start and the Community Development Block Grants. Census data determines political representation on the federal and local level. This includes the electoral votes each state receives. Businesses also use Census data to make investment, hiring and re-location decisions.
—Submitted by office of Laura Curran