The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered in the Blue Room of City Hall today:
You know, we did get a chance to look at the numbers, and our population they say is at an all-time high, which is great news because many other cities around the country are actually losing people.
In the last decade, New York City suffered the most tragic event in its history – 9/11. It’s weathered two major economic downturns. But by continuing to drive crime down and turn our schools around and invest in our quality of life, we’ve made New York an even better place. The census says that we have added 166,000-odd people since the 2000 count, but we are concerned that there’s been a significant undercount.
We think it’s roughly 2.6 percent of our population, or about 225,000 people. In March of 2010, the Bureau estimated that New York City was home to about 8.4 million people. Now it says our population is – a year later – down to 8.175 million. So you’ve got to understand, in all fairness to the census people, it’s very difficult to do these counts, and the numbers depends on when you do them and how you do them – there’s a lot of estimating that goes in as well.
It is troublesome that with the undercounting, and we kept saying that, if you remember, we did lots of press conferences trying to get people to cooperate with the census, because our representation in both Albany and in Washington depends on how much, how many people we have, as does the amount of money for many programs that we get, both Federal and State.
We’re also surprised at the numbers this morning because we think we were successful in getting more New Yorkers to fill out and send back their census. Stacey Cumberbatch, I think, was the one that led the City’s efforts and did a great job.
As part of that effort, we tried to make sure that the Census Bureau had the addresses of all of the city’s housing. There, interestingly enough, there’s something like 127,000 apartments or homes, nearly four percent of the housing in the city, that they didn’t have the full addresses on until we notified them. So it just goes to show you how hard it is to do this.
A lot of the numbers that the census is about to release seems to go against some of the information we have. For example, the Census Bureau determined that the population of Queens increased by only 1,300 people. Think about that. 1,300 people over ten years. I’m not criticizing them, but it doesn’t make any sense. And so, you know, the idea that Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx recorded substantial increases, while Brooklyn only grew by 1.6 percent and Queens grew by a tenth of one percent, it just doesn’t make any sense at all.
And I think it has to do probably more with how the housing stock is, if you live in one big apartment building or in separate attached or detached houses. Whether there’s a lot of illegal conversions would make a big deal in terms of what the count.
Another example is the census tells us that there’s 170,000 units that were built – housing units – that were built in New York City over the past decade, yet the census says that these 170,000 units are home to only 165,000 people. Can’t be, I mean there’s a lot more than one person on average. So it’s not that we’re criticizing the census, it just goes to point out when you’re trying to get numbers like this it’s very difficult.
The numbers are totally incongruous, and in 2000, I think there was something like 2.6 people in the average home in New York City. So if you added 170,000 housing units you, should have added 2.6 times that in rough numbers. The, you know, we’ll do everything we can to try to show the Census Bureau where we think they’ve erred. We want to look at what it’s doing with vacant housing, heavily immigrant dominated communities – Jackson Heights, Astoria, Bensonhurst, Sunset Park.
We’ve confirmed that these are not neighborhoods that have had a lot of new housing. Our housing stock has been there for some time incidentally, and anyone in those neighborhoods will tell you there is not a huge amount of vacant housing. So you’ve got to believe that when the Census Bureau was unable to get in touch with immigrants who lived in these communities, it simply recorded those homes as vacant.
And as Joe Salvo will tell you, or as everybody here that goes out looking for an apartment will tell you, there are not a lot of vacant homes in this city. So I hate to be such a longwinded answer, but the bottom line is I think they’ve tried to do a good job, but New York City, because of the vast bulk of immigrants and because of the way the housing is laid out, it is very difficult to count. And when three boroughs go up dramatically, and the two most populous boroughs don’t, something is wrong.