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Editorial

Don’t wait — fill in your census forms

Posted

April 1, Census Day, came and went, but if you didn’t fill in your census forms, it isn’t too late to do so, and we urge you to complete them.

With the coronavirus battering New York in every conceivable way — including financially — the state could use all the federal financial help it can get.

The federal government uses census data to determine the number of representatives states have in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 435 House seats are apportioned based on the population of each state. The larger its population, the more seats a state receives — and the greater the voice it has in federal decision-making.

The federal government also uses census data to distribute funding for programs like Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, a 2015 paper by the U.S. Census Bureau found that 132 federal programs used census data to distribute more than $675 billion in funds that year.

Here’s the thing: If a state is underrepresented in the decadal census, then it receives fewer representatives and less federal funding than it deserves, and New York, by many accounts, is typically undercounted in the census.

Now, not later, is the time to go online and fill in the census, or fill out the paper census you received in the mail and send it in. If you don’t, federal workers will swing by your home looking to count you and everyone who lives there.

At a time like this, when a potentially deadly virus has spread among us, census workers shouldn’t have to do that when it takes only 10 minutes or so to fill out the forms online.

According to the Census Bureau, you should be counted where you are living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1. If you’re responding for your home, count everyone who lives and sleeps there most of the time. That includes young children, foster children, roommates, and any family members or friends who are living with you, even temporarily.

If someone is staying with you because of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, they should be counted where they usually live. This includes college students, who should still be counted at school, even if they’re home early. If they live in student housing, the college will count them. If they live off campus, they should respond for their off-campus addresses.