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Census 2020: Make You Sure You're Counted

by Richard Francis

 

Census Day is April 1.

 

Census 2020: Stand Up and Be Counted


Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said, “The money that pays for hospitals, that pays for affordable housing…If our people are not counted, they literally do not receive the resources necessary.


“And as a consequence, we have weaker infrastructure, we have terrible hospitals, we have doctor shortages, we have overcrowded schools. All of those things happen because of the Census.”


Ever 10 years, the federal government attempts to get an accurate count of all of the people currently residing in the United States.


The Census does this by mailing paperwork to every home and if that does not work, field workers go door to door throughout the country counting everyone in every home.


An accurate count is crucial for every community, but  underserved and underprivileged communities of color especially need an accurate count because of the money that is distributed to various communities based on the count.


That money could go to providing free afterschool care for many children in inner city communities.


So for those thinking about ignoring the Census, think about how your community will get ignored when it comes to hooking up the local parks, community centers and schools.


Also think about how your community will not have enough voices speaking for their concerns because the House of Representatives distributes the number of house seats based on the population in various cities and states.


If your community has an undercount, your community will have fewer politicians speaking up for you in Congress and fewer dollars from the federal government coming into your community.


The federal government has set aside $675 billion to be allocated to communities across the country.


Very few communities can do without this influx of money, and the African-American community is no different.


Starting March 12, people residing in America should have begun receiving information about the Census via mail.


People can fill out the forms and mail it in.


Or for the first time ever, people can respond to the Census via the Internet.


The ability to complete the Census online this year should become very useful with the fear of the coronavirus impacting all aspects of life worldwide.


Filling out the Census online will limit the need for hand-to-hand contact and the coronavirus possibly being spread via the physical Census form.


Furthermore, the reality of coronavirus might encourage people in hard-to-count communities to participate.


With many schools closing because of the coronavirus, parents who work hourly jobs and multiple jobs just to make ends meet and cannot simply take off work to care for the children during the week have had to scramble to make adjustments to their way of life.


What if the money allocated from Census data went to provide more afterschool programs and weekend programs at community centers?


Parents could still work and not worry about placing their children in expensive daycares or camps that they cannot afford.


If people do not fill out the Census via mail, phone or online, Census workers will knock on their door when they begin canvassing cities, communities and neighborhoods at the conclusion of the month of April.


The official Census Day is April 1.


Organizations around the country like the Urban League have educated people in the African-American community about the importance of Census 2020 since last year.


An African-American Complete Community known as “Make Black Count” has educated people throughout cities like Sacramento, Calif.


In California’s capital city, a Black Count Weekend March will take place March 20-22 in which volunteers will get residents the complete Census questions in person at various locations throughout the city, on the telephone or via the Internet.


In Sacramento, Calif., more than 25 churches will have Census booths set up on church campuses.


Furthermore, there will be other city events throughout the month of March to educate people on the importance of Census 2020 to the African-American community.


“The longer you push it back, the less opportunities we have to be successful, that’s always the case,” said Cassandra Jennings, Greater Sacramento Urban League CEO and president. “You always want to get people to do it fast and get in early, so you don’t end up running out of time on the back end.”


The main thing that Census employees and volunteers try to do is to dispel myths about the Census.


Jennings said, “There’s a trust factor, there’s a concern about how the information is used. Part of it is just a lack of knowledge. In our community, they’re skeptical. They want to know where the information is going, how it will be used against them. Part of our challenge and opportunity is to really let people know that it’s safe, it’s easy and it’s important.


“It’s important because it has a direct impact on resources that come to our community. Every person who isn’t counted, we lose dollars on the federal, state and local level to do things that include Head Start or housing assistance, school programs and school meal programs.


“I remember from my community development days, these were funds we could use to build parks in certain neighborhoods and respond to some of their needs so if we’re not counted for 10 years, we lose out on funds that should be coming to our communities and programs that serve us. We don’t want to do that.”


And that goes for all communities, neighborhoods and cities, not just Sacramento, Calif.


The next count will not take place until 2030, so the money coming into the community will not change for the next 10 years.


Therefore, stand up now and be counted in 2020. 


This article was published on Friday 13 March, 2020.
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