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Helping make the census count

Six Brooklyn-based organizations are among those which have received grants from New York State to help make sure that the 2010 Census count in the state is as accurate as possible.

The local organizations — CAMBA, Inc., the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce (CACCI), the Council of Peoples Organizations (COPO), Make the Road New York, the Medgar Evers College Center for Law and Social Justice, and Sesame Flyers International, Inc. — were tapped to help count residents in traditionally undercounted and underrepresented communities. In all, 31 groups were chosen statewide to share in the $2 million in funding.

According to the office of New York Governor David Paterson, the grants “will fund public education, community outreach and other activities targeted at hard-to-count and low response rate populations for promoting awareness of the 2010 Census, improving Census questionnaire mail-back rates and encouraging cooperation with Census takers.

An accurate count is crucial, because New York was undercounted by approximately 200,000 people 10 years ago, when the last Census was conducted, according to New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vasquez.

The state therefore did not get the appropriate amount of federal aid. Its residents were also not fairly represented in Congress, because House of Representatives seats are allocated on the basis of population. There is concern that, this year, New York could lose one or two seats, diminishing its influence further.

“During times of fiscal crisis,” noted State Senator John Sampson, “we must do everything possible to ensure New York receives the federal dollars it deserves. Funding for vital service areas like transportation, health care, education and public safety are dependent on an accurate accounting of each and every New Yorker.”

While, among many residents, there is concern that answering the Census means that confidential information will be released to other government agencies, that is not the case, said Paterson.

“The Census is safe, as responses are strictly confidential and protected by law,” Paterson stressed.

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