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Federal officials said recently thatless than half of Queens residents have returned their census forms. That makes Queens, with only 47 percent, the second worst in the city. Only Brooklyn is worse with 42 percent.
We can imagine three reasons for this poor result: The first is procrastination. The form that takes only minutes to fill out is probably buried under a pile somewhere in kitchens across the borough. If you are one of the procrastinators, take a second to find the form and fill it out.
The second reason is more difficult to address. Some city residents who are immigrants may be afraid of any contact with the government, even if they are in this country legally. If you know someone afraid to return the form, please let them know that it cannot be used against them in an immigration proceeding. If they do not fill out the form, in the coming months someone will be knocking on their door asking the same harmless questions.
The third reason is some conclude the census has no great importance or value. That is not true. Census numbers are used to calculate federal funding.
“Anyone who thinks ignoring the census forms doesn’t have consequences is just wrong,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “That low response rate could have really serious complications and consequences for our city. It’s been estimated that for every person not counted in the census we lose about $3,000 in federal aid a year.”
The response has been somewhat better in northeast Queens, where approximately 62 percent filled out the forms. But in South Jamaica, only 37 percent sent back the form and in Woodhaven and Middle Village the response is still lower than 50 percent.
Officials in the city, state and federal governments agree New York City cannot afford to be undercounted in the ongoing census. They urge residents not to ignore the census workers who will begin showing up at their doors next week and to be honest about how many people are living in their homes.
It would be a shame if places like Oskosh, Wis., and Davenport, Iowa, got a bigger share of the government pie over the next decade because they had a better response to the census.
Do not let that happen.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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