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Message from the Director 2

Yonkers and the 2020 Census 

April 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every facet of our lives. We are in a serious moment, and it’s perfectly understandable to focus all of our attention on how we get through the coming days and weeks. That being said, I hope you can take just a short break to think about the next 10 years – and then do something that will improve this decade for Yonkers and New York State.

The decennial census – a constitutionally-mandated count of the United States that occurs every 10 years – officially launched on April 1, 2020. This official count of the 2020 Census will determine how about $650 billion in federal funds are allocated annually between states and municipalities. It also determines how many members serve each state in the House of Representatives. When households don’t fill out their census questionnaires – which happens more frequently in urban areas and communities with large numbers of immigrants and people of color, like many parts of Yonkers – it can result in underfunding and political marginalization.

An undercount has major effects on all aspects of public life, but given the current crisis I’d like to focus on public health. A number of health-related federal programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program apportion their funds based on census population counts. It also impacts spending through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program – which benefits many local health centers. Census data is regularly used to monitor and assess public health issues and guide decision-making, such as where to site hospitals and make improvements to them. Perhaps most importantly, it also determines how many members of Congress represent New York State, and who can advocate for relief funds for our area in the event of a pandemic.

That’s just one aspect of how the census affects our community. You can run through the same exercise when it comes to education or transportation or housing.

If you’re reading this page I am going to assume you have at least some access to the Internet. Please go to my2020census.gov and fill out your census right away – it takes about 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have a secure connection, or you’d prefer to answer by mail, you should be receiving paper questionnaires later this month that you can mail back. Or you can respond via phone by calling 1-844-330-2020. All census response data is safeguarded by Title 13, which prevents the Census Bureau from sharing it with other parts of the government – including the courts and law enforcement agencies. 

Whatever you do, please make sure that Yonkers Counts. Please enjoy the following video made by the City of Yonkers, which made me very proud to be a part of the Yonkers community!

For more information on the census, please visit YPL’s Census page

Jesse Montero
Library Director, Yonkers Public Library