BROOKLYN – The Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CACCI) launched its NYS/CACCI Census 2010 Outreach and Mobilization Initiative at the Flatbush Caton Market in Brooklyn, NY last week as several elected officials and community leaders joined the organization’s founder Dr. Roy A. Hastick, Sr.
Hastick said there is an extra push to get those communities that returned low response rates in the 2000 census registered this year. Those areas were predominantly immigrant populations and working class communities where residents have been reluctant to mail in the form fearing that the information will be used by immigration authorities and have a negative impact, or used against them in other ways. Hastick asked the partners to help CACCI focus on increasing response to the Census 2010 form by hard-to-count populations in Central, North and East Brooklyn; assure immigrant populations that their participation in the Census has no association with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); and explain to the target populations the impact of the under-count on government funding and political representation.
Other speakers said that filling out the form is a win for every community that has a high response rate. “It is imperative that every household fill out the form and include everyone living in the household,” said Hastick. According to Assemblyman karim Camara, “Our community stands to gain so much. For every individual who is counted in the district, the community receives resources contributed from the government. This means better schools, better hospitals, safer streets, cleaner neighborhoods, more economic investment and more stable and economically thriving neighborhoods.”
He also urged Brooklynites to fill out the forms, saying “High response rates determine how many elected representatives will come from our community and the degree of political and economic power we will have. A failure to fill out the form represents a failure to family and community and means a loss to every individual in our community.”
Dr. Waldaba Stewart, project director, said that working closely with its partners CACCI would engage in a robust and targeted education and mobilization campaign that reaches into churches, housing projects, schools, community organizations, homeless shelters, and facilities housing the formerly incarcerated. “Our aim is to encourage our partners who are well-established within the community to spread the word that filling out and returning the census form is a big win for our families and our communities. It’s about maintaining electoral power, getting sufficient resources for our community and better futures for our children.”
Hastick said the initiative would target Districts 14 and 17, representing Flatbush and East Flatbush, and home to predominant immigrant populations from the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In the past Central, North and East Brooklyn have had some of the lowest response rates in the city, with Flatbush, East Flatbush and Bed-Stuy chief among them. New York has historically had the lowest response rate in the country, costing the state some $165 million dollars alone in the 2000 census.
Meeting conveners said they expect CACCI’s education and mobilization campaign to significantly increase the number of respondents from the targeted communities. “We are going to put in the work to get our community to return the forms,” said Hastick, “and at the end of it I think our community is going to surprise a lot of people.”
The Flatbush Caton Market will serve as the headquarters for the Outreach and Mobilization
Initiative and will be open every day for the dissemination of information and training of outreach workers. Bi-lingual Spanish, French and English-speaking outreach workers will be available to answer questions about the census and to translate. The CACCI website will also feature a page dedicated to Census information. Workers and partners will distribute census forms at subway and bus stops, community/cultural events, at shopping centers, housing complexes and at private homes.