Census wraps up this month; workers still going door to door.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
You may have had someone knock on your door or you’ve found a slip with a phone number and code asking you to contact the U.S. Census Bureau.
You’ve received the form in the mail to be completed and returned or maybe a text message or phone call.
Time is running out to do the 2020 Census. The deadline to complete it is Sept. 30. Census workers (enumerators) are hard at work out in the streets knocking on doors. They have out since Aug.11.
“It’s all about resources and allocation of resources. The best way that people could be assured of their fair share is by participating in the Census,” said Marilyn Stephens, assistant regional manager of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Delayed by virus
The Census was to start on April 1 but was delayed.
“We are knocking on the doors of those who did not respond. We were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic,” stated Stephens.
The Census occurs every 10 years. It counts the nation’s population. It is mandated by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section II). It is run under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The first Census took place in 1790.
It helps the federal government allocate funding and resources for emergency management, emergency response, health care, Medicaid, hospitals, education, meals, unemployment, affordable housing, senior services, Veterans services, roads, bridges, SNAP benefits, WIC, public transportation and more.
Why it’s important
It also determines seats in Congress and state legislatures as well as number of electoral votes in the Electoral College, which actually chooses the U.S. president.
Stephens emphasized, “Just about every service provided that effects your daily lives has something to do with the Census. That is a reason why everyone should cooperate and do it.”
Local civic leaders have stressed the importance of completing it.
“It’s imperative that minorities participate in the census. It helps to correct historical inequalities in funding. Failure to participate leaves Black and Brown communities further disenfranchised and deprived of deserving resource,” commented Daytona Beach Mayor Henry.
Daytona Beach Volusia County NAACP President Cynthia Slater stressed, “The Census will greatly affect our future democracy and the health of our communities. It determines the distribution of political power and federal government funding to our communities.
“We must ensure that communities of color are counted. People of color and those who are low income often go uncounted which may lead to systemic racism, lack of political representation and underfunding of resources.”
The Census Bureau also wants Black Americans to participate.
Stephens commented, “It’s about resetting the pipeline of resources which only occurs once every 10 years. The resource goes to the programs that are important to us all. Minority communities need to understand the things we need to lift our communities up are resource which are allocated through the Census numbers.”
Black Americans are often skeptical of government and their communities are also overlooked. It’s also possible that the Black population is undercounted.
“African Americans have a traditional mistrust of government. They often feel that their information will be used against them, but they need to know that everything given to us isn’t shared and is confidential,’’ Stephens explained. “We can’t release anything that will identify you and your household. Law enforcement nor the IRS can get your information from us. The courts can’t either.”
The Census can be done online at www.2020census.gov. You can mail in your form, call, or just cooperate with an enumerator who knocks on your door.
It’s essential that people cooperate with enumerators when they come knock on their doors.
“We want people to either cooperate with the enumerator or go to the website or call our center. It’s best to cooperate with the enumerator that way they won’t come back,” Stephens noted.
“Online takes a day or two; the field response should clear it out immediately. Our enumerators are working hard to get the count. Cooperating with them only makes it easier.”
When Census workers knock on your door, they will be wearing masks, practicing social distancing, are required to be courteous and professional, wear identification badges, have a Census issued iPhone with insignia and have a black bag with Census emblazoned on it.
For more information on the Census, visit www.2020Census.gov.