[Excerpt from New Haven Independent, 1/30/19 article by Markeshia Ricks]
"New Haven is getting an early start on ensuring the city counts every resident in the upcoming decennial census — which won’t be an easy feat.
The quest began Tuesday afternoon and evening as about 50 people gathered in the Hall of Records to learn about the importance of getting people to participate in the 2020 census. They also learned about the many challenges to preventing an undercount and started brainstorming solutions to those barriers.
The census kick-off event was organized by City Plan staffers who in the intervening years between population surveys partners with the census bureau to gather information. Director Mike Piscitelli said the department has discovered about 1,400 new address in the Elm City since the last census.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said New Haven is the first city that she was aware of in the state that has begun to organize an early effort to ensure a complete count for the 2020 census.
“I commend you for that,” she said. “The census is critical to Connecticut because our state receives more than $8 billion that is tied to our census numbers in Connecticut.”
DataHaven’s Mark Abraham and Josephine Ankrah laid out some specific challenges for New Haven’s complete count efforts and provided the stats to back those challenges up.
The neighborhoods in the city that didn’t send back a big chunk of their census forms 10 years ago are Fair Haven, Newhallville and Edgewood, they said.
“There are very diverse populations that live in those neighborhoods,” Ankrah said. “It’s important to target that.”
Abraham said it will be important for the complete count committee to target families with children, particularly those headed by single parents.
“There are 50,000 heads of households in New Haven, and only about a quarter are households that live with their children, which means they’re either married and don’t have children yet or they’re living alone,” he said. “But there are 12,500 households that do live with children. The majority are not married-couple families. They’re headed by a single parent.”
Abraham said 2 percent of all the households, or about 1,000, are headed by a single father. About 6,200 households are headed by a single mom. The city also has about 1,000 families are headed by a grandparent with primary responsibility for grandchildren.
“It might sound like a small number, but in those households, there are 40,000 children at risk of being undercounted,” he said.
Ankrah said other low-income people who often are hard to count include immigrants and people with limited English proficiency. In New Haven, one in three adults speak languages other than English at home, which works out to about 40,000 people. Abraham said three-quarters of those people speak Spanish at home.
“If you think about those adults who don’t speak English at home, about 15,000 report that they don’t speak English very well. So they have some challenges understanding/reading English, or they don’t speak it well and can have trouble interacting with the census,” he said.
People who rent or move often or live in crowded or multifamily homes are also hard to count, according to Ankrah.
“In New Haven, about three-quarters of all households are renter-occupied,” she said. “Also, interestingly about half of renters moved in the last two to three years, so there is a chance of them being missed while they’re moving. “
Abraham said one silver lining is that most people in New Haven use the Internet. The bad news is that most people don’t have reliable access at home and have to rely on a smartphone or public access at places like libraries. He noted there is a big digital divide in the city. In Westville, nearly 100 percent of households have not only Internet access but high-speed service at home, he said. But in Newhallville, the Hill, and Fair Haven, less than half of households have it.