NEW YORK—Census forms are being sent out, but very few are being returned.
Census data released this week show that only 6 percent of city residents have sent back their census forms, which must be returned by the end of the month.
Overall, the national average for census returns stands at approximately 16 percent. During the past week, 120 million forms were mailed to residences across the United States.
A portion of the Soundview neighborhood in the Bronx hasn't returned any forms and a portion of Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, haven't returned any forms either. Other notable low turnout neighborhoods are the Lower East Side, Manhattan, and Jamaica, Queens, where less than 2 percent of residents have mailed their forms back.
The data show that the Bronx response rate is at 2 percent, Brooklyn is at 6 percent, Queens is at 6 percent, Manhattan is at 7 percent, and Staten Island is at 16 percent.
The low turnout has raised red flags with city and state officials because federal funding is allocated based on census turnout.
Approximately $25 billion in federal aid is doled out to the city based on the census turnout for security, schools, and other services. Other than funding, the census count is used to redraw districts for elected representatives.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued statements on Wednesday that filing out a census form is confidential.
“New York City is the poster child for a ‘hard-to-count’ population, but we simply have to do better—there is too much at stake,” said Bloomberg.
He added, “If we don’t turn it around, we risk having even more of our tax dollars sent to other states. No one has anything to fear from filling out the census form, but we all have a lot to lose if city residents do not send the form back.”
The city has the largest percentage of “hard-to-count” people in the nation because there are many renters, single men and women, a large foreign-born population that speaks languages other than English at home, and many economically disadvantaged residents.
Back in 2000, 55 percent of the census forms were mailed back compared with the national average which is at 67 percent. Between 2000 and 2009, the city's population increased by approximately 385,000 people to 8,391,881 on July 1, 2009, according to census data.
If a household doesn't mail a form back by April 1, the census will mail another form. If the census still doesn't receive a form, they will send workers to the home to get a headcount.