Sep 14, 2022 - Politics

Boston challenging 2020 census count

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is challenging the 2020 U.S. census count of Boston that tallied 675,647 residents, citing an undercount of at least 6,500 people.

Driving the news: Wu said yesterday the survey severely undercounted students, foreign-born workers and incarcerated people, citing research from the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

  • The BPDA expected a count of around 700,000.
  • And changes in the census' racial classifications may have led to a miscount of the city's Black and white populations, Wu noted, as residents of Brazilian or Cape Verdean origin were labeled "some other race."

Why it matters: Billions of dollars in government funding are at stake, since the decennial count determines how much assistance a city or state receives for transportation, health care and other needs.

Wu's decision has drawn support from City Councilors Ruthzee Louijeune and Liz Breadon, now chairperson of the council's redistricting committee.

What they're saying: "An accurate count of Boston residents will ensure that all our communities, especially our Black and Brown communities that have suffered from decades of disinvestment, get the resources and attention needed to thrive," said Louijeune, an at-large councilor, in a statement to Axios.

By the numbers: Some 6,000 students weren't accounted for, Wu said. The count also missed about 500 people who were incarcerated in Suffolk County's two correctional facilities on April 1, 2020.

Plus: An unspecified number of vacant housing units may have been occupied by foreign-born residents who avoided census workers, per Wu.

  • Census workers have historically failed to properly count communities of color, especially immigrants, because of language barriers and government mistrust — especially in light of former President Donald Trump's proposed citizenship question.
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