By Linda Viertel
The Rivertowns’ Complete Count Committees—all volunteers—are working hard to make sure everyone counts in the 2020 Census. And it matters- big time. For every individual counted in each household, the federal government allots approximately $2,500, which goes to more than 100 programs including public education, infrastructure, Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants, redistricting, school lunches, fire departments, hospitals—in short, all social structures and municipal infrastructures that keep the rivertowns robust, equitable and supportive.
Census results have an impact on planning and funding for health clinics and highways, fire departments and disaster response, education programs such as Head Start and college tuition assistance. They help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year. They determine how many seats in Congress and how many presidential electoral votes each state is allotted.
Mandated by the Constitution to do so, the U.S. has counted its population every ten years since 1790. This year, each village is doing its part to reach all residents through emails, phone-calls, banners, signs in stores and social media reminders.
Beginning in June, assuming no further virus flare-ups, the Census Bureau will restart is field operations, visiting homes where residents have not yet responded to the census mailings, calls and emails. Due to the pandemic, the self-response deadline has been extended until October 31st, and everyone can respond online at https://my2020census.gov/, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by returning the mailed form sent to their residence. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect answers, and all census employees take an oath to protect personal information for life. Answers are kept anonymous; no one is identified.
Here’s an update on what each of our rivertowns is doing to contact residents and help them understand the importance of filling out the Census, give advice on how to fill out the form and answer any questions. (The numbers in parentheses represent the estimated percentage of a village’s overall population already counted as of May 17.)
TARRYTOWN (65.2)/ SLEEPY HOLLOW (56.7)
Banner across Beekman Avenue at Cortlandt Street in Sleepy Hollow.
Tarrytown Trustee Becky McGovern, a Complete Count Committee member, tells The Hudson Independent that volunteers with flyers and signs continue to be a presence at all food and meal pick up sites at the schools as well as at the Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow contactless farmers market (TaSH) and On The Line food distribution sites. Every robocall from the village government will have a message about completing the Census. A response rate ladder will be put up in front of either Village Hall or at Washington Irving School showing Tarrytown’s progress.
Sleepy Hollow’s Mayor Wray has sent a letter to all residents urging them to complete the Census, and Tarrytown’s Mayor Fixell is planning a public service announcement to be sent out soon. In addition, Char Weigel, a member of the Complete Count Committee, offers a partial list of ongoing Census-related activities in the villages.
- Asking Chamber members to spread word among their customers/clients.
- Videos and postings in Spanish-language media and social media.
- Village is reaching out to building managers and homeowners associations.
- Ongoing outreach through senior groups.
- Outreach through the Tarrytown Unified School District (TUFSD)
- Posters in local delis and bodegas.
- More robocalls and emails from the mayors.
Last month, a “Your Response Matters” notification went out to everyone in Tarrytown. Households that received the paper questionnaire and might have thrown it out can still respond online, by telephone or by return mail in any one of 13 languages (including English). Assistance is also available through guides and videos in 59 languages. Each letter has a personal Census ID to be used along with a home address.
The online address is: https://my2020census.gov/ and the telephone number is 844-330-2020.
Every Census employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The law ensures that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.
As the Complete Count Committee stresses, “the 2020 Census is more than a population count. It’s an opportunity to shape Tarrytown’s future. Through your social media channels, your voice can make a difference. You can inspire others. Tell everyone – your friends and family, neighbors and co-workers, that you have completed the Census, and that they should respond now, too!”
“Like other communities,” reports Irvington’s Village Administrator Larry Schopfer, “we are reaching out to our citizens through mostly electronic means (email, social media). However, we are also contacting our senior citizens and other at-risk individuals directly by phone. We are helping them complete their Census responses and offering whatever assistance they need.
“Prior to the COVID crisis,” continues Schopfer, “we had planned a series of in-person workshops with our seniors, even including times where we would sit down with them to help complete the Census, but obviously none of that happened.”
Typical of the many online messages the village has sent out to its residents: “The 2020 Census is a massive undertaking. It requires counting a diverse and growing population. The Census questionnaire asks a few simple questions about you and everyone who was living with you on April 1, 2020. You can still respond online at 2020census.gov – without ever having to leave home or meet a Census taker.”
DOBBS FERRY (67.2)
Shape your parks, your health care, and your community. Participate in the 2020 Census. Visit 2020CENSUS.GOV to learn more.
Banner designed by Trustee Christy Knell now placed in Gould Park.
Liz Dreaper, Dobbs Ferry’s Village Clerk and Registrar, has been charged with overseeing every activity in the village, and there are many. Here is a partial list of what she is doing to reach Dobbs Ferry’s residents:
“Numerous email blasts have gone out via the Village’s email list to encourage people to respond.
Spanish and English flyers have been printed and delivered to the Food Pantry. There were two different flyers which I supplied to them for distribution.
Our public library was designated as a Census Hub. (The Census provides a laptop where people can come to the Library to submit their response directly to the Census. Due to COVID-19 this is currently not available since the Library is closed)
Once we are able to utilize the Census laptop again, we are working to coordinate sharing this with the folks at the Food Pantry.
I have reached out to the school district and sent them materials which they have included on their Facebook pages. They have also distributed materials via their email list and have announced via other media outlets that they use.
I have reached out to the churches and synagogues in the Village and asked them to encourage their congregations to respond to the Census.
Dobbs Ferry has also posted a great deal of Census information on the village website, including videos and documents in several different languages. There is also a census video posted on the village’s local cable access channel.”
WESTCHESTER COUNTY (60.2)
There’s probably no bigger cheerleader for the Census in Westchester than County Executive George Latimer, whose staff has been repeating the “Census Counts” theme for months, knowing that the stakes are high. As Blanca Lopez, Latimer’s Advisor on Fair and Affordable Housing, stresses, “Basically, if one were to look at all of the programs that are affected by Census dollars in a community, and divide that by the population of that community, the result reflects how much money a community loses if one particular individual does not participate in the census.” With that number at around $2,500-a-year, she notes, “in the course of ten years, the loss of federal dollars is close to $25,000 per person per community.”
Latimer himself makes the point this way: “We need everyone who is living here to participate regardless of status, whether you are a homeowner, renter, temporary resident, or a student living at home with your parents – you must be counted. Right now, we are only halfway to a full count of our households. We still need to remind those that haven’t responded that they can and must still do so.”
Click here to fill out your 2020 Census form online. For more information, visit the Westchester County Census Website. where you will find answers to all your questions, a list of languages available for callers who need assistance, and all Complete Count Committee chairs in Westchester County.