New York Counts 2020
New York Counts 2020

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New York Counts 2020 Census Talk at Men's Homeless Shelter

On February 26, 2019, New York Counts 2020 reached one of the most vulnerable hard-to-count communities in the country-the homeless.  On the remote Randall's Island, there exists the Keener Men's Shelter (formally a psychiatric facility),  that temporarily houses more than 300 men.  Keshia Adams, one of the shelter's coordinators, attended the February 6th census forum sponsored by New York Counts 2020 and its member orgs Citizens Children of New York and Chinese American Planning Council in Lower Manhattan and invited New York Counts 2020 to come to the shelter to do a presentation.

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The men were eager to listen to the presentation, particularly to hear of job opportunities as enumerators and to learn of the process of how homeless people are counted. And there is a role for everyone.  The shelter needs to contact the local census office to be sure their address is listed in their records.  Then, the local census bureau must make plans to come to the shelter to count people living in the shelter within the two days leading up to April 1, 2020.

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To prepare for the count, the shelter and the local census bureau need to coordinate.  The census bureau conducts job fairs at shelters to hire homeless people as enumerators to maximize a fair count of the homeless population. And the temporary residents at the Keener Shelter are ready to apply.  They exclaimed, "We know where to find people, we've been there, they are our friends." The next day, the Brooklyn Complete Count Committee held a census panel at Brooklyn Borough Hall where members of New York Counts 2020 were present.  Among the speakers included Jeff Behler, New York's Regional Census Director who gave introductory remarks.  When approached, he welcomed the idea of having a job fair at Keener Shelter so hopefully the shelter and the Census Bureau will make it happen!!  A win-win situation for everyone!! Jobs for the homeless, homeless people get counted,  and federal funding continues for shelters and services that help the most vulnerable become functioning and independent members of our community!

Elizabeth Plum