The U.S. Constitution requires a decennial national census — once every 10 years, at the start of a new decade. The deadline to submit 2020 census was in March but is extended to end of October; it was already extended a few times. Names and status are needed. Just a count of number of people living in each household And the information is strictly confidential – cannot be shared with any other government or private agency except for census purposes only. Aid and service to communities is tied to the census.Guyanese American Vishnu Mahadeo, and a few others from the Indo-Caribbean community, are working or volunteering around the clock to get Guyanese, Trinis, South Asian, Indo-Caribbeans, and all others to complete the census. He held a census get together for seniors two weekends ago in Richmond Hill also known as “Little Indo-Caribbean” or “Little Guyana”; many seniors patronized the program that provided lunch and music. It was addressed by NYS Senator James Sanders.
Everyone is urged to please complete and submit the form immediately in order to be counted as living. You don’t have to be an American citizen to fill out the census. Once the US is your place of residence, you can (must) complete it. A form is sent to every apartment or housing unit. And others are available on line or the post office or a census office.The census is extremely important for every neighborhood and for ethnic groups at large. The census is conducted by households – apartments or private homes and by families. If someone does not complete the census, he or she is not counted and is not considered as living. It is completed on line, and it is an easy process that takes a few minutes. There is also a hard copy version for those not tech savvy.
Assistance can be provided by census takers or enumerators that are sent to a residence to assist with completion.
The government mandates that everyone, regardless of residency status, to complete the census form so the government can establish an accurate count of the number of people in a community and the nation. While it is punishable not to complete the census, the law is not enforced. Many people, very large numbers of Guyanese, particularly, Indo-Guyanese, do not complete the census and as such are undercounted in the population. Currently, the submission rate for Guyanese in Richmond Hill is just about 50% according to official figures. Some Guyanese when approached to complete the census say: “Meh nah get time with dah. How meh guh benefit from dah”. Enormous amounts of benefits flow from the census, including jobs and housing in a community.
Guyanese and Caribbean communities need to be aware of the importance of the census. Public resources, schools, government funding, and political representation in the nation’s capital and in the state and city (other local) legislatures are apportioned based on the census data. The higher the count, the greater the number of seats allotted to the community in each legislature and the amount of resources sent to that community or district. The approximate amount of funds given by the federal government to a community for each person counted in the census is US $7K annually. By not completing the census or excluding a name, deprives community of $7K in resources.
The data in the census on population count is used to determine the number of representatives from a state in the U.S. House of Representatives. The data is also used to redraw boundaries (redistricting) of constituencies within a state as well as City and school districts. Also, every year, the federal government allocates some $500 billion in grants to states and communities for development based, in part, on census data. The census data also affect school budgets, including the distribution of funds for schools, free school meals, college tuition grant and loan programs. Community planners use census data to determine where to build new schools and change zoning laws, develop public transportation, and create new roads, etc.
So, the census count is extremely important. When one person is not counted, the state and the community could potentially lose up to seventy thousand dollars over the next ten years because the federal government gives $7K per person every year living in the community. And there will be no way of correcting the data until Mar 2030. The Caribbean communities, Guyanese in particular, were severely under-counted in the 2010, 2000, 1990, and 1980 censuses. Only 62% of New York city residents completed the census in 2010; the number was even lower among Indo-Caribbeans. Now is an opportunity to have their numbers accurately counted.