The U.S. census plays a heavy role in determining how much federal money comes into different communities.
In order to get the most accurate numbers possible, nonprofits that are part of the Rochester-Monroe Complete Count Committee are pumping efforts to get more people to fill it out.
Causewave’s Rashad Smith said only 47 percent of city of Rochester residents have completed the census so far.
“There’s a need to increase the response for the census in the city of Rochester because that's lower than Buffalo or Syracuse,” said Smith. “Racial equity is the current movement. And something we can do to address that right now is completing the 2020 Census.”
The Census Bureau says that 49 percent of the populations in Buffalo and Syracuse have completed the census. The city also lags behind Monroe County as a whole, which is at 60 percent, roughly the state average.
Among the hard-to-count census tracts is the Group 14621 neighborhood which makes up a chunk of the
north side of Rochester and is one of the areas where Smith is concentrating his efforts. He said that African American, Latino, and various immigrant communities are often undercounted, as are the homeless. In order to get an accurate count in areas like 14621, Smith said it takes some creativity and an open mind.
“What it requires is the leadership and the commitment of the community at-large,” said Smith. “It also requires input, ideas and suggestions on how to effectively reach those communities.”
That includes efforts like bringing speakers, politicians and local dignitaries to Pulaski Park on North Street, which was scheduled for Wednesday, but was rained out. It will be rescheduled. Smith said he wants to go further and deeper into the communities by holding events on vacant lots in hopes to connect harder-to-reach people with the census.
One change could make Smith’s job harder. President Donald Trump released a memorandum Tuesday ordering that undocumented immigrants not be counted in the census. Trump says it's because it affects how many seats are in Congress. Opponents call it unconstitutional.
Smith said the president's move is counterproductive.
“It’s idiotic and stupid to hear that, knowing the value of the immigrant community to America,” Smith said. “And I just hate to hear that.”