At ferry, Island officials rally ahead of census

Diane J. Savino

February 05, 2010

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Big Count begins on March 19, and millions of dollars are at stake.

That’s when homes on Staten Island and across the nation will begin receiving U.S. Census forms in the mail.

“If you are human, if you are breathing, if you are living anywhere on Staten Island, we want to count you,” said Reva J. Sears, partnership coordinator for Census 2010.

Ms. Sears was joined by borough elected officials at the St. George Ferry Terminal today to raise awareness about the once-a-decade count of Americans. The population numbers are used to decide how many legislative representatives communities receive and how $400 billion in federal funding is distributed for things like schools, housing, roads and social services.

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) said that it was “time to prove” that the Island has indeed been the fastest-growing county in New York state over the last 10 years.

“Staten Island needs every dime it can get from the federal government,” she said.

State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) pointed out that the Island is one of the few places in New York that has actually added population over the last decade.

Every household in America will receive a 10-question census form beginning next month.

Those who don’t mail back completed forms will receive visits at home from census workers beginning in April.

In a bid to encourage undocumented immigrants to participate, officials today stressed that the information they gather is not shared with any other part of government, including law enforcement and immigration agencies.

“It’s safe, it’s fast and it’s important,” said Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore). “We talking about millions upon millions of dollars.”

The census’ “Portrait of America Road Tour,” featuring an informational van dubbed “Liberty,” will visit the Island on March 30, stopping at the Staten Island Mall and at PS 20, Port Richmond.