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Some of New York’s urban areas to be designated as rural under new criteria

The U.S. Census Bureau is changing the definition of an urban area, which could affect federal funding for places across New York State and nationwide.

The revised list of urban areas won’t be released until late 2022, but the move could impact more than 1,300 small U.S. cities, according to News10 NBC. Under old criteria that’s been used for over a century, a place needed a population of over 2,500 residents to be considered urban. Now, it will need at least 2,000 housing units, or roughly 5,000 residents.

Urban and rural areas qualify for different federal funding. Some groups- like the American Hospital Association- expressed concerns that the changes will cause issues with accessing medical care in rural-designated places. A coalition of associations representing counties, cities, planners and transportation groups opposed these changes last year, citing the switch from counting people to housing units wouldn’t account for land use patterns and development variations.

The Census Bureau said its new definition will be used for statistical purposes only, but other federal agencies use census data to classify urban and rural areas in terms of funding opportunities.