• Census Student Voices

Growing Up in East Flatbush: Why Black Communities Need to Fill Out the Census

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

by CUNY Census Student Maya Simeon Growing up in East Flatbush looked like children running to ice cream trucks, smelled like jerk chicken on the grill and sounded like loud soca music. Clearly, all of my good memories are from the summertime. My community is rich in culture and diversity. Unfortunately, it is also rife with negligent landlords. As of 2018, 26% of rental homes in East Flatbush aren’t adequately maintained by owners, subjecting tenants to subpar and unhealthy living conditions. Many experience problems with heat, mold and pests. These issues begin a snowball effect that often lead to asthma triggers. They lead to avoidable and concerning hospitalizations among children ages 5 to 17. The asthma emergency department visit rates for children in East Flatbush lead the entire city.  Now that we are experiencing the devastating impact of the coronavirus, the longstanding deficiencies in my community are even more prominent. Many of the health disparities we are experiencing today have roots in low census turnout in 2010 and 2000. When our communities don’t fill out the census, we don’t have the population count that justifies increased investment in healthcare systems. Filling out the census can help.

Every 10 years, the US government conducts a national census to get an accurate count of everyone living in the country. The data collected is critical for lawmakers, advocates, health officials, and others who use the information to allocate resources and representation. Billions of dollars in funding are allocated to hospitals, housing, schools and other public services. An accurate census count of East Flatbush residents can help not only improve our access to quality medical services, but it can also improve our housing conditions, schools, transportation services and more through increased federal funding.   My hope is that by increasing our Census count, East Flashbush will finally receive the much needed improvements to our housing conditions that a bustling and vibrant community like ours deserves. You can help make that happen by filling out the census online at, mailing in a paper form or by calling the Census Bureau at 844-330-2020, to fill it out over the phone. The census is 10 questions. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and it will determine the funding and political representation we will receive - or not - for the next 10 years of our lives.

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