The 2020 Census will begin its count April 1. Local Buffalo officials met with leaders of refugee resettlement agencies Thursday night to discuss how to make sure the entire population is accounted for.
Elected officials like Assemblyman Sean Ryan spoke Thursday night at Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement on Buffalo’s West Side to express concern the area could be undercounted like it was in 2010.
“We would have at least one more Congress member if we had been counted correctly," Ryan said. "So we're really taking steps this year. We are hoping to lead through the library system to make it so we just think it's normal to be counted. If you're not counted. You're on the outside.”
Ryan wants new Americans who live in the area to know they have nothing to worry about when they fill out the Census this year.
“It's got nothing to do with immigration in the sense of takers. And the information is all in a variety of languages," Ryan said. "And the library will have people there who could connect you with a person of your language if they don't have somebody right there who can help you at that time.”
Something different from 2010, this year’s Census is going to rely heavily on online applications.
“But that's bad news for the city of Buffalo because we don't have great internet reliability," said Ryan. "Either people don't have internet or they can't afford to keep it on. So we don't want to rely too heavy on that. But we know we want everyone to know they can go into the last library system. And they could do the Census there because this library has computers, they'll have a navigator for you.”
Challenges like that are concerning for Fillmore District council member Mitch Nowakowski, who said his district in particular has a large amount of new Americans. Over $675 billion in federal aid is distributed based on the results of The Census.
“This is how we plan for community block grant money. For weatherization funds to house senior citizens and for vital services that keep our neighborhoods great, but we can't do that if we don't have everyone counted," Nowakowski said. "So throughout the city of Buffalo, you're going to see numerous amounts of outreach opportunities. I'll have one at the Broadway Market come April. And it's very imperative that we bring everyone out, especially those that have a language barrier.”
Council member David Rivera said there is no doubt if everyone is counted, the region's numbers will go up.
“We've seen an influx in refugees and immigrants from different parts of the world because buffalo is and was a resettlement city where we took in quite a few immigrants and refugees, so we want to make sure that they're counted as well,” Rivera said.
Local officials are also looking for those interested in becoming a Census taker. You can apply online here.