Skip to Main

August 27, 2019

Sampan: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley on 2020 Census: We deserve to be seen, heard, and invested in

Dorchester – Alongside community leaders at the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley launched the MassCounts Get Out the Count campaign to increase participation in the 2020 Census in historically undercounted communities. Over 150 community members joined the launch of the Get Out the Count campaign.

Congresswoman Pressley urged community members to pledge to count in the 2020 Census because  “our communities deserve to be seen, heard, and invested in.” She emphasized the importance of participating in the 2020 Census, saying, “By organizing, mobilizing, and investing in this campaign, you make sure that the federal government doesn’t forget about the people.”

City Council President Andrea Campbell, who co-leads the government subcommittee of the City of Boston’s Complete Count Committee with Representative Chyna Tyler, spoke about the diversity of District 4 and the importance of a complete count. “We have large Vietnamese, Haitian, Cape Verdean, and Latino populations. The 2020 Census is about getting the attention that our community deserves. Without a complete count, our stories will not be told. We need an accurate count to paint the picture of the problems we face and adopt the solutions that our communities need.”

The City of Boston has invested $100,000 in mini-grants for community-based organizations to get out the count. Applications are due on Friday, September 6, 2019.

Angelina Hua, an organizer with the Asian American Resource Workshop emphasized the importance of the 2020 Census for securing resources that help stabilize the Vietnamese community in Fields Corner. “Our neighborhoods are changing rapidly. We need to make sure that we have the resources to stabilize our community, and that’s why we need a complete count. This includes the $50 million per year that funds Boston Public Schools, community development block grants for affordable housing, Medicaid funding, Section 8 vouchers, language access via social service block grants, and more,” explained Hua.

“The Census is about us. It’s a chance to tell the story of our neighborhoods. Amid rapid change, communities like Dorchester need political representation to ensure our needs are heard in city hall, the statehouse, and Congress,” said Mimi Ramos, the Organizing Director at New England United for Justice, which works with residents in Dorchester and Mattapan to increase civic engagement.

Roxana Rivera, the head of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ District 615, a majority immigrant union, emphasized the importance of the participation of labor unions and membership organizations in Get Out the Count efforts. “Through our unity and strength, we pushed back against a racist attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, and we won. Now the real work begins. Together, we must take action and make sure our communities are counted. Participating in the 2020 Census is a show of collective strength.”

Local leaders connected the importance of the 2020 Census to securing community resources. Speaking in both English and Cape Verdean Creole, Paulo Debarros, the President of the Cape Verdean Association, said, “The 2010 Census showed that there are 15,000 Cape Verdean immigrants in Boston. We know the actual population is almost double. Our community lost out on important resources and political representation. That’s why I’m asking people to pledge to count in the 2020 Census.”

Local leaders also spoke to the need for a complete count for community health. Michelle Nadow, the Chief Executive Officer of DotHouse spoke to the needs of the 20,000 patients that the community health center serves by saying, “Over 50 percent of our patients prefer services provided in a language other than English. A complete count is the first step toward equal access to resources for public health and healthcare, especially Medicaid, Medicare, and SNAP. Our patients rely on these programs for quality care. Our community benefits the most when everyone is counted.”