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High Level Of Undercount Among Afro-Caribbean New Yorkers

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 3, 2009: New York City planning officials on Tuesday admitted that there was a very high percentage of Afro-Caribbean New Yorkers who are undercounted mainly because they do not fill out the Census form.

The disclosure came at a press briefing hosted by officials of the newly-created New York City Census department and the New York/New Jersey Census Bureau on Tuesday at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in Manhattan.

Officials say the level of undercount is highest in areas like Canarsie, Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Flatbush in Brooklyn as well as Woodlawn in the Bronx and Far Rockaway and Jamaica in Queens.

Many Caribbean nationals call the areas home but maps provided by city officials showed that in 2000, the last decennial census, there was only a 20-45 percent response rate, which led to an overall drop in the total city response rate to just 55 percent, which means the city of New York lost millions in funding because of non-response.

Each person who does not fill out the form is $2,700 lost in federal funds to the city,` said New York Census coordinator, Stacey Cumberbatch.

For 2010, Census officials at both the federal and city level want community organizations and the ethnic press in spreading the message on why filling out and returning the Census form and mailing it back next March is important.

Participation in the census is required by law and data obtained are used to determine every aspect of the lives of Americans, from city and state funds for all programs, including education, health, immigration, among others, to grants, to political seats, market data and advertising to business investment.

Officials also went to great lengths to reiterate that the Census is confidential and taken to ascertain a statistical count of the national population and cannot be shared with any other government agency, under the law. Undocumented nationals should not be afraid, said New York City Immigrant Affairs Commissioner, Guillermo Linares.

Linares added that it is critical that all New Yorkers take the 2010 census since the city needs its full share of funds to provide all level of services to its population, whether documented or not.

`There’s no excuses at the end of the day,` said Linares.

The 2010 Census will be the shortest in history and will not ask for citizenship or income levels.  Caribbean nationals are being urged to ensure they `stand up and be counted` by the organization, CaribID.

CaribID officials urge all Caribbean New Yorkers to ensure they fill out the 2010 Census form and write in their country under question 8 while ticking `No Not  Hispanic` to ensure they  boost their presence in the U.S.

A Caribbean Count bill was recently lobbied for by CaribID and introduced into the House by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and into the Senate by Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand to bring attention to the fact that Caribbean nationals are not taking the Census mainly because many don’t feel they are accurately identified on the form.

Meanwhile, qualified Caribbean and other nationals who are U.S. citizens, born or naturalized, are urged to apply for Census jobs by visiting the Bureau`s website at http://2010.census.gov/2010census/, said Lester Farthing, regional director of the New York/New Jersey Census bureau.