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NYC Census 2020 Campaign Final Report: The Next 10 Years - A Model for NYC's Future

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Defying All Odds, New York City Achieves Historic Census Self-Response Rate in 2020 Amidst Relentless and Ongoing Attacks from Trump Administration

New York City: We have a lot to be proud of.

As of Saturday, October 17, 2020, New York City registered a historic 61.9% self-response rate to the 2020 Census, outpacing the Census Bureau's own pre-COVID estimate for self-response in the New York City metro area, which was 58%. New York City's self-response rate is also higher than that of most demographically-similar cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Houston, and Dallas, among others.

New Yorkers achieved this rate in spite of New York City being the epicenter of a global pandemic during the first two months of the census period and following never-before-seen court battles regarding the census that ultimately culminated in the Supreme Court cutting the census short in the weeks following the passage of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

With these successes, New York City remains hyper-vigilant about the next steps for the census, which is not yet over. The Census Bureau's rushed data processing timeline of just two months is a cause for real concern. The de Blasio administration has previously called on Congress to extend the reporting deadline for census data, a move that is all the more necessary and urgent, considering that there is reportedly a large amount of door-knocking data that is thought to be inconsistent, incomplete, or inaccurate as a result of the shortened timeline.

In addition, the issue of whether or not the President will be successful in his attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the final count used to distribute the 435 seats in the House of Representatives across the 50 states remains as of yet undecided, and will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 30. An adverse decision from the Supreme Court on this matter would very negatively impact states and cities with large undocumented immigrants, including several largely Republican states.

New York City will continue to closely and carefully monitor these developments, and will explore any and all possible legal options available to hold the Census Bureau and Trump Administration to account should the City find that the final census count numbers warrant being contested.

Key Campaign Achievements: By the Numbers

  • More than seven million texts have been sent to New Yorkers reminding them to complete the census and/or assisting them with completing the census
  • More than four million calls have been made to New Yorkers reminding them to complete the census and/or assisting them with completing the census
  • Approximately one million New Yorkers directly clicked on our digital advertisements directly linking viewers to the Census Bureau's self-response page
  • Approximately half-a-million households have been counted or directly assisted as a result of NYC Census 2020's Campaign. This does not include New Yorkers who completed the census after seeing or hearing a NYC Census 2020 ad campaign.
  • More than 1,000 census events in under a year were organized.
  • 34 media campaigns in 27 languages – the most the City has ever done – were launched to reach all New Yorkers, no matter where they're from or what language they speak. PSAs featured figures like Cardi B and Alicia Keys.
  • Three out of five boroughs surpassed their 2010 response rates (Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island)
  • 213 out of 245 neighborhoods (87%) that are within five points, at, or several points above their 2010 response rates (of these, 132 neighborhoods are ahead of their 2010 rates)
  • 157 NYC Complete Count Fund awardees – collectively, the recipients of $16 million funding for census education, outreach, organizing, and advocacy
  • 80+ languages in which NYC Complete Count Fund awardees serve New Yorkers
  • 16 Citywide Partners – key partners responsible for developing strategy, identifying resources and tactics, as well as implementation and amplification

The 2020 Census will shape New York City's future for years to come.

Once every ten years, the United States Census takes a count of every person in the United States. The taking of the census is mandated by the United States Constitution and has occurred every 10 years since 1790.

But the census is so much more than just a count. Census information is used to determine New York City's fair share of billions of dollars in federal funds for public education, affordable housing, infrastructure, and more — as well as the number of seats we have in Congress.


NYC Census 2020

Click a topic, or press the enter key on a topic, to reveal its answer.

What is the Census?

The census is the count of every person in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau. Mandated in the Constitution under Article I, Section 2, it has taken place every 10 years since 1790. The census is critical for determining each state's representation in Congress and the distribution of more than $650 billion in federal funding for vital programs like public education, affordable housing, roads and bridges, and much more.

In 2020 the census will be available online and by phone for the first time. Information about completing the census will be mailed to every household in the U.S. by mid-March of 2020. Next year, the U.S. Census Bureau expects 80% of households to complete the census online, and the remaining 20% to complete it using more traditional methods.

How Does the Census Work?

In 2020, the census will be conducted between mid-March and the end of July. This period is divided into two phases: the "self-response-only" phase and the "non-response follow-up" phase.

By mid-March of 2020, every household in the United States will receive a letter from the Census Bureau with information about how to fill out the census online. During the self-response-only period, the census will be available online and by phone for the first time in history. At the end of the self-response-only phase the Census Bureau will send paper forms to households which have not responded online.

In approximately mid-May, the Census Bureau will begin to send enumerators, or "door-knockers", to conduct non-response follow-ups for households that have still not completed the census. If no one answers the door after several attempts, the enumerators will either use administrative records or proxies to try to determine the information for that household.

These estimates by enumerators are often inaccurate and can leave many New Yorkers out of the count, impacting our fair share of $650 billion in federal funding for vital programs and our representation in Congress. That is why increasing the self-response rate is imperative to strengthening our ability to achieve a complete and accurate count next year.

For more information, please visit the 2020 Census website.

Why Does the Census Matter?

The upcoming 2020 Census is critical for the future of New York City.

The census determines how critical resources and political power are distributed.

As New Yorkers, our fair share of over billions of dollars in federal funding is at stake. This includes funding for our public education, affordable housing, roads and bridges, and much more.

And, if we are undercounted, we could lose up to two seats in Congress, diminishing the power of our voices on Capitol Hill.

NYC Census 2020 is working to ensure that every New Yorker is counted.

In 2010, the self-response rate in New York was 62%, while the national average was 76%.

In some neighborhoods, self-response rates were as low as 35%. This means New York City has historically been undercounted—we can't let that happen again.

It is critical that every New Yorker is counted: if we're not counted, we don't exist!

How Can I Help?

Join your Neighborhood Organizing Census Committee!

Help us get out the count!

NOCCs are groups of volunteers from 245 neighborhoods across all five boroughs who work together to organize and mobilize their communities to participate in the census.

Volunteers, captains, and NOCC leaders will be working together to ensure their neighborhood is counted in the 2020 Census through community outreach, canvassing, phone banking, and texting.

Sign up here!

What is NYC Census 2020?

NYC Census 2020 is a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative established by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. NYC Census 2020's program is built on four pillars:

  • The New York City Complete Count Fund.
  • An in-house "Get Out the Count" field campaign.
  • Innovative, multi-lingual, tailored messaging and marketing.
  • An in-depth and multi-layered City agency engagement strategy that ensures that all City agencies and institutions, including their clients or constituents, employees, and infrastructure, are utilized to promote census participation.

NYC Census 2020 is led by Director Julie Menin, an attorney by training, who has previously served as Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment, as well as the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly known as the Department of Consumer Affairs).

What is NRFU?

Since mid-March, the public has been completing the census online, by mail, or by phone. Non-response follow-up (NRFU) is when census takers conduct in-person visits to collect census information from households that have not yet completed the census. The NRFU period began on August 6 and will continue through September 30, 2020. Although cCensus takers have already begun knocking on doors, you can still self-respond to the census online at, by phone at 1-844-330-2020, or by mail.

Have more questions about NRFU? Check out the full NRFU FAQ in many languages
Have questions regarding building access for census enumerators? View the official NRFU Building Access Letters