Op-Ed
by Albert Baldeo
Oct 20, 2009 | 2839 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the decennial U.S. Census near, we must encourage everyone to participate. The census is used to determine representation in Congress and federal aid to local and state government programs and operations, including funding for schools, hospitals and transportation, and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

Your participation in the census is required by law, and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $400 billion in federal funds to local, state, and tribal governments each year.

Census data is used to make important decisions in the areas of jobs, economic development, affordable housing, health care and education. For every New Yorker counted in the 2000 census, the federal government spends nearly $2,000 a year, a decisive amount.

Census affects your representation in state and local government, and is used to define legislature districts, school district assignment areas, and other important functional areas of government. It defines us as a nation. Data about changes in our community are crucial to many planning decisions, such as where to provide services for the elderly, where to build new roads and schools, or where to locate job training centers.

We must work with all city, state and federal leaders to make sure everyone is counted so our communities receive our fair share. The census forms will arrive in the mail next March, and every one should fill it out and return it. It’s safe, quick, and you will be helping yourself and the entire community.

The 2000 U.S. Census failed to count hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and there are neighborhoods and areas right here in our backyards where large numbers of people were not counted in the past, which has robbed us of our fair share of federal resources.

Case workers only visit households that do not mail back census forms. Information collected is confidential and is not shared with law enforcement, immigration, welfare or any government agency, and filling out a form doesn’t increase a person’s chances of being picked for jury duty.

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