New York, NY – After Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg submitted New York City’s initial submission to the U.S. Census Bureau formally challenging new 2010 figures released earlier this year that appear to significantly undercount New York City communities, particularly in Queens and Brooklyn – two of the city’s most populous boroughs, U. S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wrote to Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, in support of the City’s challenge. New York City is participating in the Census Bureau’s appeals process, known as the Count Question Resolution Program. Senator Gillibrand is working closely with the City to contest these figures.
“The Census numbers simply don’t add up,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is critical that the Census Bureau gets this count right so we don’t lose critical federal funding over the next decade. I will continue to work with federal and City officials to correct this undercount and ensure our communities get their fair share of federal resources.”
In a letter from Mayor Bloomberg to Dr. Groves, the Mayor wrote, “While we believe errors occurred in the enumeration of neighborhoods throughout the city, our supporting documents focus on two specific areas where these errors were concentrated. The Bureau’s enumeration erroneously classified large numbers of housing units as vacant within two Local Census Office boundaries: Local Census Office 2227, which counted Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, and Local Census Office 2235, which counted Astoria and Jackson Heights in Queens. Numerous data sources cited in our submission refute the prevalence of widespread vacant housing units in those areas, which are and continue to be among our most stable, growing and vibrant neighborhoods…It is our expectation that the City’s population could increase by tens of thousands of New Yorkers if the errors from those two Census offices alone were corrected.”
The City submitted their challenge last night through the U.S. Census Bureau’s Count Question Resolution Program (CQR). The CQR program re-evaluates existing census records, materials and documentation from challenging governments and corrects figures if a processing error was made in the 2010 Census count, including erroneously deleting housing units that were identified during the Census. The official revised count would be used to help determine federal and state funds and population estimates, but could not be used for redistricting purposes.
The 2010 Census figures show that New York City’s total population is 8.1 million—a 2.1% increase since 2000. Last year, the Bureau estimated a total of 8.4 million city residents. The Bureau’s official figures also show a slow uptick in two of the city’s most populous boroughs – Queens’ population increased by only 0.1% while Brooklyn grew by only 1.6%.
Census data, collected once every ten years, guides decision makers on where to build new schools, health clinics, child care and senior centers and much more. Since the federal government uses census information every year to distribute critically needed funds for programs such as hospitals and school services, clean streets, public housing and social services, undercounting has resulted in city neighborhoods losing hundreds of millions of federal dollars over the last decade.
Last year, Senator Gillibrand expressed concern to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about chronic undercounting in New York’s immigrant neighborhoods, particularly in Jackson Heights, Astoria, and Sunset Park. Immediately after the 2010 Census numbers were announced, Gillibrand wrote to Commerce Secretary Locke urging him to review the 2010 Census results and correct any undercount to ensure New York communities get their fair share of federal resources.
The full text of Sen. Gillibrand’s letter to Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau is below:
Dear Dr. Groves,
I am writing in support of New York City’s official request to reassess the official population count in Brooklyn and Queens to include the immigrant population living there. The 2010 Census numbers for New York City that do not accurately reflect the population growth that the city has undergone since Census 2000. I am concerned that the 2010 Census numbers reflect an undercount, particularly in Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods, and as a result will cost New York hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state funding.
The Census Bureau reported that New York City’s population grew by an approximately 2.1 percent. This estimate is troubling for two reasons. First, it shows a loss of roughly 225,000 New York City residents since the Bureau’s March 2010 estimate that New York City had 8.4 million residents. Second, the Bureau found that over the last ten years, Queens’ population increased by only 0.1 percent, a mere 1,343 people and that Brooklyn grew by only 1.6 percent. This estimate is problematic, and appears to be contradictory to the population growth in these two boroughs, particularly given the growth of between 3.2-5.7% in the remaining boroughs.
As I noted in a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security last year, and another letter to the Secretary of Commerce in March 2011, I was concerned that this inaccuracy may be the result of the difficulty in ascertaining accurate counts in immigrants communities such as Jackson Heights, Astoria, and Sunset Park.
The Bureaus’ estimation was based on erroneously classified large numbers of housing units as vacant within two local Census Office boundaries. However, as the Mayor of New York cited in his submission to the Census there is plenty of data to refute the prevalence of widespread vacant housing units in those areas, which are and continue to be amongst the most stable, growing, and vibrant neighborhoods.
While I am aware that extensive measures were taken by the Department to ensure that Census 2010 was the most inclusive in our history, I along with the Mayor, maintain that there is a significant undercount of New York City population growth. There is well document evidence of, while well-intentioned, considerable shortcomings in the efforts to reach racial and ethnic minority populations, including immigrants, during Census 2010. Many of those shortcomings were based on a deeply-rooted and historic lack of trust between government authorities and the aforementioned groups, which I highlighted in my 2010 request for immigration authorities to work with communities to ensure accurate censuses.
Once again, I support the New York City Officials, and the Mayor’s submission to review the 2010 Census results in Brooklyn and Queens. I urge you to work with my colleagues in Congress, the City, and the State to correct this undercount and ensure our communities get their fair share of federal resources. I look forward to your response to New York City’s submission.