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Kal Penn’s PSAs in Hindi, & Gujarati spur South Asians to fill out the Census

New York: NYC Census 2020 has released a series of new PSAs featuring actor, writer, and former Obama administration official Kal Penn. Penn recorded PSAs in three languages, EnglishGujarati, and Hindi, highlighting the importance of completing the census to all New Yorkers, especially to those of South Asian and Indo-Caribbean descent.

“If we don’t take the census, it’s like we don’t exist,” said Kal Penn in the PSA. “The census brings us billions for schools, hospitals, roads, and bridges, and a whole lot more – but only if we fill it out.”

While more than half of New York City households have completed the census (53.1% as of July 7), neighborhoods with significant South Asian populations in Queens, including Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, and South Ozone Park, are significantly behind the city’s overall self-response rate. This means that federal funding for critical services, such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and more are at risk for these neighborhoods.

The 2020 Census also determines each state’s share of congressional seats — and New York stands to lose up to two congressional seats as a result of a potential undercount. New York City currently has no South Asian or Indo-Caribbean elected officials, despite South Asians being the fastest-growing immigrant group overall in the city, with significant populations in Queens, The Bronx, and Brooklyn. Accurate and fair districting will ensure that South Asians have representation that better reflects the needs of their community in the future.

“From his Hollywood experience as a former City Councilmember in ‘Sunnyside’ to his real-life experience as a civil servant in the White House, Kal Penn understands the importance of New York getting its fair share of political representation,” said NYC Census Director Julie Menin. “We thank Kal for doing his part to make sure that New Yorkers know their immigration status or their housing situation should not prevent them from filling out the census. Their census responses are completely confidential and secure.”

Amit S. Bagga, Deputy Director, NYC Census 2020, pointed out:  “Despite being an indelible part of the city’s cultural fabric for decades, and now being among the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the city, South Asians and Indo-Caribbean communities have been under-funded and under-represented as a result of being undercounted in the census.”

While Penn is the first high-profile celebrity from New York’s South Asian community to participate in this campaign, NYC Census 2020 has partnered with many South Asian and Indo-Caribbean community-based organizations to boost the census count among those New Yorkers as part of the Complete Count Fund.  NYC Census 2020 has previously released PSAs featuring artists, celebrities, and public figures with strong ties to New York City, including singer Alicia Keys, rapper Cardi B, composer Lin Manuel-Miranda, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Late Night host Seth Meyers, and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Recently NYC Census 2020 and Seamless, Grubhub’s NYC-specific brand, also announced a contest where winners will receive ten $1,000 gift cards to New York City residents who recently completed the 2020 Census.

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