Boro Park
Boro Park Flash 90
As I write these words the opportunity to be counted in the census is closing and you, as a member of the community, should be as upset as I am. I will explain why.

The census is a 230 year old federally mandated initiative that is drawn from the Constitution of the United States in order to determine how to proportion representation.

It is not a government initiative to intrude on your privacy nor is it an attempt by the government on any level to interfere with your privacy.

In fact, by law the Census is sealed for 72 years so whatever concerns you may have, they cannot use any information except for the count for 72 years.

Everything from affordable housing to welfare is determined by the census. One very important such service is the Child Care Block Grant which allows so many of our Yeshivas to stay afloat.
Every ten years, local municipalities and states must be counted in order to proportion representatives. Since then, every level and type of government assistance has been based on the Census. When the census numbers come out, those are the numbers that the government has to abide by when they appropriate: members of Congress, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Head Start programs, food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, Title I, and almost any other program.

Everything from affordable housing to welfare is determined by the census. One very important such service is the Child Care Block Grant which allows so many of our Yeshivas to stay afloat.

So why should I care? How will it impact me? Even if the impact is not clear and tangible to you at first glance, it truly influences you and our community. If your child requires a Head Start program or if you require a Section 8 Voucher or any type of government assistance, all of those means of support are predicated on the actual census.

Imagine, if Boro Park reported near 100% in the census how many more Section 8 Vouchers we could receive, how many more families we could keep together. If you are not counted, there is no way governments can include you and your whole community.

Yes, our City has less than ⅔ reporting for the census, but our community is even more under reported. When the census was taken in 2010 less than 50% of Boro Park filled it out, at the time the lowest reporting percentage from any neighborhood in the entire City.

Currently, the Boro Park community is the second lowest at 43%. Other Jewish communities are not much better. Experts say for every person who doesn’t fill out the census, social services for that area are reduced by more than $1,000. That means that every single person in our community that does not fill out the census is responsible for those in our community who need government assistance but couldn't receive it.

In Boro Park, where our communities and institutions are growing immensely, Bli Ayin Harah, people are still suffering to make ends meet.

It may not be you or your relatives, but every person in our community knows at least one person, from Shul or Yeshiva or even work, who is struggling: struggling to pay rent, to buy food, to pay tuition.

Regardless of how you feel about the state’s responsibility to the needy, these systems exist, and we would be fools not to take part in them. An integral part of that participation is the census.

For those who feel our community is not given the amount of representation in government we deserve, the census is the one way to solve your problems. The representatives of our community certainly do a good job and stand for our values B”H, but fact-is-fact the more numbers you have in the legislature the more power you have. If we would respond more, we would have more representatives in all levels of government representing our neighborhood in which we reside.

In other words, Boro Park could have their own City Council Member, along with Midwood and Flatbush. This has nothing to do with partisan politics. This is just simple arithmetic.

We kvetch so much but we just don't get it: when it comes to being proactive, we fall down on the job. Kvetching gets you nowhere unless it is followed by tangible action. Everyone must internalize this message.

I quite literally cannot emphasize this enough: this is a once in ten-year opportunity. If the last few months of upheaval have not been the wakeup call that we need to do all we can to make our voices heard as much as possible then we must be deaf, blind, and ignorant. I urge everyone to stop what you're doing and call 1-800-923-8282 or go to and respond to the census. You have until September 30th, 2020 to do so.

Ezra Friedlander is the CEO of The Friedlander Group a public policy consulting group based in NYC and Washington, DC