Money from the Census

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Afton Branche, immigration analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, examines the ways that the Census count directly affects how things are funded. We'll also check in with NPR fellow and WNYC reporter Habiba Nosheen, who is at a Census Day event on Northern Boulevard in Queens, Jersey City's mayor Jerramiah Healy on the Census push in NJ, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who's passing out Census palm cards in Midtown.

Test your census knowledge -- take the quiz on our "10 Questions That Count" Census Home Page!


Afton Branche, Jerramiah Healy, Habiba Nosheen and Scott M. Stringer

Comments [44]

Emily from Queens

I filled out my census the day it arrived (no I am not from Nebraska, I'm a native New Yorker). I did receive a second census in the mail yesterday and immediately thought of filling it out for an additional 6 people on John Doe's behalf. We've already had two hospitals close in Queens, I'm not eager to loose another.

Apr. 02 2010 10:25 AM
Dan from Sunset Park

I too received another census form in the mail today. I mailed back my initial form within a couple days of receiving it. It seems kind of wasteful to send a duplicate form out to people who have replied. I guess the second mailing was prepared before they knew who responded.

Regardless, I hope this means people who haven't received the initial round of forms will get them this time. Now the trick is to get them to respond. :/

Apr. 01 2010 01:48 PM
Harlan Barnhart from Queens

I wasn't planning to respond to the census because only three forms were mailed to the address where I live in an illegal apartment in basement. I live here because I cannot afford legal housing even though I work full time as a carpenter. Since this city has pursued housing/real estate policies that have inflated housing prices out of reach of single income working families, I must assume the city has decided we don't exist. Since I do not exist, how can I be expected to fill out a census form to extend the status quo into the future?

Apr. 01 2010 12:11 PM
randy swan from Croton-on-Hudson, NY

1) Everyone living within the USA should fill out the census strictly for information sake on principle. The reason should not be based upon money motivations. In a neutral way we should come to know the composition of our people in America, and not for politics or anything else.
2) Since Federal money disbursements is made, is it a fixed amount regardless of whether the count is say 300 million or 350 million, for instance? Or does the amount vary based upon the count?
3) And what was the amount of money disbursed from the 1990 census?
What will be the amount of money disbursed from the 2010 census?

And thanks for a wonderful program the year round...

Apr. 01 2010 12:08 PM
Samla from White Plains

Tom #15 - last census was in 2000, Clinton was still in office, not W...unless you are referring to Daddy Bush in 1990.

Apr. 01 2010 12:03 PM
s from brooklyn

If you don't get a form, here is where to find a location in your neighborhood where you can get a form in six languages:

Apr. 01 2010 11:49 AM
JP from NJ

How is my voice in congress heard over all the special interests groups that spend millions lobbying congress? Doesn’t Exxon, AARP and the likes speak for me whether I like it or not? Dont they get first dibs on all my tax money?

Apr. 01 2010 11:39 AM
teaching artist from Brooklyn

Perhaps in tuning in late I missed this information - my question is - As a new student of social justice work, I am wondering how knowing one's race and ethnicity will benefit marginalized communities - hasn't history shown that communities of color have less access to resources? How will the census affect change?

Apr. 01 2010 11:39 AM
Mike C. from Tribeca

The majority of Glenn Beck's viewers are senior citizens, who will fill out the census because they're from the day when being a good citizen was considered normal. Why does the media give this inconsequential hack so much attention?

Apr. 01 2010 11:39 AM
Sarah Plain from Ridgewood

The census is mandatory. If Glen Beck and politicians are encouraging people to break the law that is their deal.

I'm glad it is mandatory people sure don't vote in this country.

Apr. 01 2010 11:38 AM
Henry from Katonah

As an amatuer family history researcher , I have pored over census schedules from 1850 to 1930. Such nice handwriting! Interesting and useful questions, such as state/country of birth, do you own your home, do you speak English. In 1880 I saw my ancestors' locality ( Helgoland) crossed out and a correct answer (Germany) written in. What does a researcher 70 years from now have to look forward to? What happened to the random long questionares that were sent out in 1980? - Not that I thought that was a good idea.

Apr. 01 2010 11:38 AM
holly Mendenhall from dumbo, brooklyn

I'm originally from Nebraska and I found the description of people from those states very amusing and true. I am a 5th generation descendant of Eastern European immigrants who came to the US to take advantage of the Homestead Act. I think there is an important correlation between being part of a farming community and following the rules. You can't help but be organized in an environment like that. Where as, "thinking outside the box" is a necessary for becoming an artist or perhaps an entrepreneur. That might explain why New Yorkers are slower to return their census forms, and it might explain why I moved to New York!

Apr. 01 2010 11:37 AM
Nick from Manhattan

Has anyone figured out how much the government has spent on promoting this census.
I received mail telling me I would get the form, I then received the form and then I received a postcard reminding me to send in the form. All of these BEFORE the date on which the census should be filled out.A total waste!
They should wait until a few days after April 1st and mail to only those who are late...

Apr. 01 2010 11:37 AM
Lynne Spevack from Flatbush, Brooklyn

Re today's calls that some listeners have not received the census:

Is it possible that low-income neighborhoods have such poor postal service that this is interfering with getting good returns? Having lived in both East Flatbush, Brooklyn and Greenwich Village, I see a vast difference in mail service between these two neighborhoods; in Flatbush, sometimes I don't receive some of my mail - which never happened in the Village. Clearly the Flatbush post office is given fewer resources than in the Village - much longer lines, fewer amenities (like the mechanism for mailing boxes without standing on line).

Perhaps a topic for crowdsourcing?

(BTW: I did get my census form, did return it.)

Lynne Spevack LCSW
Social Work Psychotherapist

Apr. 01 2010 11:36 AM
gary g from nyc

So, if everyone would NOT send in their form would we be able to REMOVE all the members of the HOuse of Representatives......

Apr. 01 2010 11:35 AM
JP from NJ

Sorry, thats no more then $100

Apr. 01 2010 11:33 AM
JP from NJ

I know I can’t be fined more then $100 (title 13 – section 221). But what other legal ramifications will I suffer?

Apr. 01 2010 11:32 AM
MB from Brooklyn

We live in Ditmas Park and have not received our Census form in the mail. The CAMBA office at the corner of Flatbush & Church has them.

Apr. 01 2010 11:31 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

No wonder Brooklyn has only a 30% response rate - most of us haven't received our forms!

Apr. 01 2010 11:30 AM

How much has the Bush Admin's wiretapping, torture and general duplicity contributed to people's distrust of the Census?

Apr. 01 2010 11:29 AM
Derek from 42nd St.

Is the census needed? The Census according the US Constitution is mandated to apportion the representatives by State. Why has the US Congress not expanded its membership since the 1910 census and why did the Congress freeze the membership at 435 in the Reapportionment Act of 1929. The congressional distinct sizes have tripled in population (212,000 to 650,000) while the Congressional House membership has been stagnant at 435. If this is truly a representative government we need to increase the House Membership. This also affects the Electoral College and Presidential elections.
Also the Method of Equal Proportions is a disaster for apportionment and an equal divisor method would be ideal with a fixed number of people per Representative.
Please visit and for more information.

Apr. 01 2010 11:29 AM
Dave from Teaneck New Jersey


I was born in Omaha Nebraska and we moved to New York because my father was a federal employee and was transferred to the New York area back in 1953. My dad always participated in the census in Nebraska and here on the East coast. Reason??? Because of our ethnic make up, he felt it was important that we too were counted. Ethnically my family Is made up of American Native, Black, French and Irish.

Apr. 01 2010 11:28 AM

I'm in JC and I'm too scared to work as a census person there. Most of my unemployed neighbors feel the same. We certainly will be undercounted.

Apr. 01 2010 11:26 AM
Andrew from Sunnyside

I grew up on a farm 5 miles out of Elgin, a town of around 800 people, in Northeast Nebraska. I went to college in Kearney, a town of around 30,000 people. I moved to NY about 4 years ago. I got my census and filled it out and mailed it the very next day. I think it's just a part of the idea of doing my part. Also, I like to get things done so that I don't have to worry about forgetting to do it later on. My taxes were done the first week of February. It was how I was raised. "Don't put off something that I could do tomorrow, that I can do today."

Apr. 01 2010 11:26 AM
Waldo from Chelsea

Large numbers of people in particular zipcodes haven't received their census forms? Sounds like somebody from the post office is dumping mail into the river again.

Apr. 01 2010 11:26 AM
John from Jersey/Brooklyn

question for the mayor of Jersey City. unrelated to the Census. Why so many water main breaks? we have a boil water advisory today.

Apr. 01 2010 11:25 AM
Eli Forsythe from Flatbush, Brooklyn

I am another Brooklynite who has not received his form! I called in but got the same answer - wait till the 12th. You can't order another one and you can't fill it out online. I want to be counted! May be because I live in a new building?

Apr. 01 2010 11:25 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Regarding the caller -- "Everyone around here thinks its a conspiracy." Yes, I'm sure the federal government has nothing better to do than conspire against her community.

Btw, I received my form two weeks ago, filled it out in 8 minutes, and sent it off. Selas!

Apr. 01 2010 11:25 AM
s from brooklyn

My building received a second mailing of forms today, whether we already sent it back or not. So, I think people who have not gotten the forms yet will be getting one from the second mailing.

Apr. 01 2010 11:24 AM
tom from qnsr

Im much more compliant now that the Obama administration is in, rather than the Bush administration. Its true, I cut the form in a million pieces and was paranoid to answer the phone when bush/cheney sent out that extremely long form--asking income and all. With Obama Ive already sent mine in.

Apr. 01 2010 11:24 AM
jay from Norwalk, CT

A friend of mine who lives in Easthampton NY also has not received his census form.

Apr. 01 2010 11:24 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

We haven't received ours (in Kensington) yet - my husband has called several times.

Apr. 01 2010 11:23 AM
Curt from Washington Heights

I'm not from the states being discussed in the show, but my wife always tells me that whenever we travel to Michigan (where I grew up) she feels like everyone is always so nice there and she just laughs whenever someone smiles at her or says "hello" while walking by. She also says that there are two versions of me, the NYC version which is more serious and focused and the Michigan version that smiles more and isn't as tense.

Apr. 01 2010 11:21 AM
Larry from Nyack

I optimistically filled out and mailed my form in the day it was received last week, expecting that I would live until April 1.
By the by, the A.P. reported today, April 1, that the first village in N.Dakota to achieve 100% mail-back was the tiny hamlet of Monte Cristo, ND. The mayor, Ed Dantès, had renamed the census effort to be the count of Monte Cristo.

Apr. 01 2010 11:21 AM
maggie hall from great neck

I'm a pretty compliant girl who grew up in the midwest, but I have to say, the census form AND the letter AND all the p.r. say April 1, April 1, April 1. So I filled it out this morning. How is that late?

Apr. 01 2010 11:17 AM
Scott Smith from Manhattan

As for New York's response rate, how much is the depressed rate affected by the prevalence of multiple units joined into one for a family? As someone in my neighborhood told me, he got two forms (one for each unit his family occupies), filled out one and threw out the second. How many other non-returns are similarly influenced?

Apr. 01 2010 11:15 AM
Alice from Upper East Side

Why are census forms mailed before April 1st legal since the questions on the form specifically ask how many people _were_ living at a location on April 1, 2010?

Apr. 01 2010 11:14 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

1. Even with a mere 32% response rate, IF the Census Bureau were allowed to use statistical methods (that Republicans abhor), we'd already have more than enough responses for statistically reliable results.

2. Do we even know that Census forms are getting to people? Mail service in my section of Brooklyn is *deplorable*. I've seen things take *over a week* to get to me from Manhattan!

3. Does anybody find it interesting that regions of the country which often claim great skepticism about the government are seeing higher response rates than places like Brooklyn -- places often vilified by conservative regions as being too dependent on government?

(By the way, already sent my form in.)

Apr. 01 2010 11:14 AM
tom from uws

I'm a Nebraska native who has lived in New York for 33 years. When I arrived in NYC along with a roommate from Missouri, though neither of us had jobs yet we were accepted by our landlords. They said, "You're good midwestern guys, we can trust you."

I wouldn't trust anyone just because he's from the midwest, but the thing is, we show up.

Apr. 01 2010 11:11 AM
Matt from Brooklyn

Let's have a census of humor about this.

Apr. 01 2010 11:10 AM
Bryan from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

I would have returned my census, but I haven't received it in the mail yet. I called the hotline and they won't resend me a form until April 12th. Any other Brooklynites not get a census yet?

Apr. 01 2010 11:10 AM
Waldo from Chelsea

From this day forward anyone who calls to complain about inadequate or non-existent government services should be asked if s/he filled out the census form. Anyone who doesn't fill out the form or lies about it has no right to complain.
As for John Doe in comment #1 -- He ought to move to Mississippi or Alabama.

Apr. 01 2010 11:06 AM
John from Staten Island

Since you're having the Borough President of Manhattan on the show, is it possible for a future show to interview the head of the NYC Charter Revision Commission? Since there are upcoming public meeting, I would like to hear what this person has to say.

Apr. 01 2010 10:54 AM
John Doe

I only filled out my census form for myself and not my family. i undercounted my family on purpose so New York will not get more money. New York wastes taxpayer money left and right. Example New York spends more in Medicare than California even though California has more people eligible. New York lead the nation in per pupil spending in education. Starve the beast, fill out your Census so the census dept does not send a worker to your house but only fill it out for yourself Ignore your family members. I undercounted by 6

Apr. 01 2010 10:14 AM

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