Counting New York


Darly Corniel presents to community organizations on the CWE-CLC Workers Count2020 initiative


Once a decade, the residents of the United States count themselves. The decennial census is used to determine congressional representation and allocate $650 billion in federal funding across the 50 states.
“Funding for education, food stamps, public housing, and transportation are on the line,” says Darly Corniel, Education Director at the Consortium for Worker Education. “We are here. It is important that we are counted.”
Immigrants, seniors, and children are more likely to be undercounted in the census than other residents.
Getting counted - or not - is personal for Darly. When the country last performed the census, she was living in an attic apartment that was not in official records. “I never received the form and didn’t understand that it was important. I’m sure that I wasn’t counted.”
Now, Darly is leading CWE’s census outreach program to help as many New Yorkers as possible participate in the census. That initiative, CWE-CLC Workers Count2020, is a partnership between CWE and the New York City Central Labor Council. It is one of 150 programs that the City of New York is funding to increase census participation across the five boroughs.
This year, the census will be conducted online for the first time. The website is expected to go live the week of March 12th, and every household in the country will receive a letter prior to that asking them to participate. Between the launch and the end of April, households will get four more mailed reminders, including one with a paper form, and then federal census workers will visit homes in person to collect census responses from households that have not responded.
In a city like New York, door-to-door canvassing is a challenge, particularly in immigrant communities where aggressive immigration enforcement has made people afraid to speak with government officials. So CWE is working through its labor and community partners to get residents counted before a census worker needs to knock on their door.
“You are more likely to participate if you are hearing about the census from your English teacher or from the community organization that you attend,” says Darly.


CWE is working through its labor and community partners to get residents counted before a census worker needs to knock on their door.


CWE is hiring ten part-time organizers to help with outreach to organizations and individuals. It is also partnering with its vast network of community organizations to make census education part of their regular interactions with community members. By working with established neighborhood organizations, outreach can be tailored to different communities.
“The goal is to take the census to people where they are, whether that’s a community center or a church,” says Glenda Williams, CWE’s Deputy Executive Director for Workforce Partnerships.
Outreach workers and organizations will ask residents to sign cards, pledging to fill out the census. After the website goes live, CWE will follow up with each of them to make sure that they follow through, as well as offer access to computers or translated materials to ease participation. Key to the outreach is stressing that the census is confidential and that the information will not be shared with any other government agency.
The goal is a complete count that allows New York to get its fair share of congressional representation and funding.
“How do we get what we need if we don’t exist?” says Darly. “Because that's what happens if we don’t get counted.”