NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Low census participation in New York City is alarming local leaders.

Billions of dollars and political clout are at stake, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Wednesday.

The pressure is on to increase participation in the census by the Sept. 30 deadline.

“You have to be counted, in order for especially our city to get the help it needs,” said Domingo Cuello of Harlem.

“I’m concerned about representation and I’m concerned about how much money comes into New York City to help all of us,” another person said.

WEB EXTRA: Complete the 2020 Census

But so far, only about 58% of city residents have filled out the census. In some neighborhoods it’s much lower, a far cry from the 65% national average.

“We can’t have New York City go under-counted. Again, it means such serious ramifications for the future of this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Billions of dollars are on the line for things like schools, public housing, and transportation, not to mention census data is also used to determine the number of representatives each state gets in Congress.

There are nine questions on the form that was mailed to every home. Residents can also fill it out online.

“Who is in your household, so there’s name and age, the address and it’s usually on the form already and it’s nationality and race,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said.

Cline-Thomas asked Rosado, “What do you tell people who are afraid because they feel like, ‘Oh, I’m giving the government information about me and I don’t know how it’s going to be used?'”

“It is a confidential process. This information is not shared by law. The census people cannot share that information,” Rosado said.

The purpose is to get everyone counted to equitably distribute resources.

The whole process takes just minutes, but the impact lasts an entire decade.

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