NYC Employing 'Canners' To Help Count People For Census

Mike Sugerman
December 06, 2019 - 7:40 pm

Spencer Platt/Getty Images


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – New York City is spending millions of dollars to make sure it gets everyone counted for the 2020 census. Among those helping out are the city's ubiquitous can collectors, known as "canners." 

The group Sure We Can was among the organizations that received a grant from the city as part of its effort to increase its census count. Sure We Can is receiving more than $100,000 to hire canners—people who pick up recyclables for money—to be counters and ambassadors in their neighborhoods for the upcoming census.

Ryan Castalia, of Sure We Can, says canners are out on the streets every day, so they know about people living in the neighborhood.

“The canners are largely made up of underrepresented people,” Castalia said.

Through an interpreter, one canner in Bushwick told WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman that the canners are also very trusted.

“She thinks it’s very good in that they will be counted, especially the Hispanics,” the canner said. “And this city will know how many are we.”

New York City will spend upwards of $20 million on such programs—said to be more than any other city in the U.S.

The city government figures it lost out on tens of millions of dollars after the last census, because only about 60 percent of the people living in the five boroughs were counted.