It's Like Rooting For Your Hometown Team In The Superbowl

Get Smart, Roosevelt Island: Be Savvy, Fill Out the Census

Updated 2 weeks ago David Stone
Every one of us counts. Don't mess up the census...
Every one of us counts. Don't mess up the census...
File photo

It's time to get smart, Roosevelt Island. Savvy residents fill out their Census 2020 from, which takes only a minute or two for a whole household, because it's a win for our team. And you're not just rooting, you're a player, a vital part of the local push for a win. But some charge that residential building owners are not cooperating.

"The blunt truth is we have a problem when it comes to the census countdown, we are running out of time and we've got a response rate that is too low – right now at 57.9 percent," Mayor Bill de Blasio said, last week. That number barely budged since mid-August.

And now, multiple Roosevelt Island residents complain that managers at several residential buildings are not cooperating, as required by law, by allowing census enumerators to canvas their floors.

Credit where credit is due - The Octagon is said to be outstanding, allowing census workers to do their jobs.

But some Hudson-Related managed buildings in Southtown are not. One resident who has participated in canvasing in the past said these are similar to problems encountered in the same places in 2010.

The House, Cornell Tech Campus

The single residential building at Cornell Tech was a focus of complaint, but we checked with spokesperson Jovana Rizzo, who clarified the situation>

"Campus housing is different from traditional apartment buildings," Rizzo told The Daily. 

"Campuses respond to the Census Bureau directly on behalf of the entire campus housing population, which Cornell Tech is doing, instead of having residents respond individually. Cornell Tech is reaching out to the Census Bureau to sort out this misunderstanding."

What Is The Census?

"The Census has been a cornerstone of our democracy since the first national count in 1790.

"The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency.

"The 2020 Census counts the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands)." The United States Census Bureau.


Why Does the Census Matter?

According to the McCourt School of Public Policy, "In fiscal year 2015, census data were used to determine the allocation of $675 billion for 132 programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, Head Start, and Highway Planning and Construction. The top five programs by amount of funds that used census-based population numbers and population characteristics to determine fund distribution in fiscal year 2015 were: Medicaid ($311 billion); the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP $71 billion); Medicare Part B ($70 billion); Highway Planning and Construction ($38 billion); and the Federal Pell Grant program ($29.9 billion)..."

In short, our share in the distribution of lots of money depends on every person being counted.

But just as important, the census is used to determine representation in Congress, where New Yorkers already get a bad deal. (See New York Screwed In DC.) Don't make it worse.

But we've got this problem...

"But right now the New York City census response rate is 56.2 percent. So we're a little over halfway there," Mayor Bill de Blasio reported, just ten days ago.

"Now I want to be clear. Imagine for a moment, this was the end of the process today. And we were only at 56.2 percent. Well, that would suggest we get about half the representation we deserve in Washington. That would suggest we get about half the funding we deserve for education, for transportation, for affordable housing from Washington. I don't think there's any New Yorker who wants half a loaf and wants to lose our fair share. So let's be clear. We have work to do. And everyone's a part of it."

Young and old, we're all in this together. So, get counted! (Roosevelt Islanders came together to welcome the Blue Dragon in 2016.)
Young and old, we're all in this together. So, get counted! (Roosevelt Islanders came together to welcome the Blue Dragon in 2016.)
© David Stone/Roosevelt Island Daily.

Census 2020 forms were mailed to every household in April. In this perilous year, it's easy to see how it might get set aside by anyone. Moreover, a high number of fleeing residents in fear of the coronavirus is well-known, and even for those who left forwarding addresses with the Postal Service, that's not a 100% reliable process.

But for all of that, the Census has a solution.

"If tenants do not respond to the questionnaires, they may receive a visit from a census worker."

That's happening throughout Roosevelt Island, right now. 

And we've to an additional problem...

"Landlords and property managers in multifamily buildings have to allow access for census workers to buzz or knock on front doors of specific tenants who have not responded to the census mailing." (See What Apartment Managers Need To Know)

But according to Judith Berdy, appealing to RIOC and Hudson-Related, some here are not.

Berdy worked as an enumerator in 2010, and this year, she's getting feedback from friends trying to do the this critical job.

"It is infuriating that one building will not let enumerators in as they did 10 years ago. This building is owned by a major medical center that receives multi millions of government funding. Most of our new buildings have not been accessible."

She's referring to the Southtown complex of residential buildings, managed by Hudson-Related, a combination of real estate titans that ought to know better. The Octagon, also a new building, but managed by Bozzuto, has cooperated, allowing enumerators to do their jobs.

"I do not know why some landlords act as if they are above the law."

To this, we can only add that Hudson-Related's a great landlord, but they need to take steps to be better neighbors.


We'll leave the last word to Mayor de Blasio.

"Now, we're going all out. September 30 is our deadline. We're going to throw everything we got at it, at the grassroots. But I want to make a clear statement today. The census, this is part of literally – it's in the U.S. Constitution.

"This is something that happens every ten years. It is the law. It must happen and we need to honor it," he said in his August 20th press briefing.

"So I want to talk about our census workers who are going out into apartment buildings all over the city. And we're hearing some reports that they are being denied access and that's not appropriate. And that's not what we're going to allow in this city. If a property manager, a building owner, a co-op or condo board, if anyone doesn't allow the census personnel in, and that means we are not going to get our fair share of funding or representation. That's absolutely unacceptable."

It is.

So, Hudson-Related, wake up and smell the hazards of not allowing Census 2020 workers to do their jobs.

And if you are a resident and have not yet filled out the form, here's what you do: Online, click Census 2020, and devote a few minutes to helping our team win federal funds and the best possible representation in Congress. 


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