March 30, 2020 – Once every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person living in the United States. April 1st is the official kick-off day for Census 2020.
There’s a lot at stake in the 2020 Census. Population data collected by the Census is used to make decisions that will shape our community for a decade to come. From building roads and critical infrastructure to funding education, social services, and disaster relief, Census data is used to determine how $675 billion in federal funds will be spent each year. The Census impacts every one of us on a daily basis. It. Our community can’t afford an undercount.
Here’s a quick look at how Census data shapes our communities:
• Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Relief: Statistics from the 2020 Census will be used for funding of federal disaster relief, preparation, rescue operations, hospitals & clinics, and fire stations.
• Schools and Education: The 2020 Census count impacts the federal funds that communities receive each year for schools, teachers, and students, such as special education, Head Start, after-school programs, classroom technology, food assistance, and maternal/child health programs. Census information also funds Federal student loans, research grants, and campus improvements.
• Social Services & Food Programs: 2020 Census statistics will be used to fund social service programs including Medi-Cal; Head Start; Women, Infants and Children (WIC); and CalFresh (food stamps).
• Representation: Census results are used to adjust or redraw electoral districts, based on where populations have increased or decreased. State legislatures or independent bipartisan commissions are responsible for redrawing congressional districts. The U.S. Census Bureau provides states with population counts for this purpose.
In order to ensure all Nevada County residents are counted, a coalition of community organizations is working to “get out the count” in communities that have been undercounted in the past. The Nevada County Counts campaign includes organizations in both Eastern and Western Nevada County that serve children ages 0 to 5, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and Latinx and LGBTQ+ folks.
As the first online Census, 2020 poses a particular challenge for rural communities. Local organizers are working to ensure that residents without internet access know how to get counted. Those who are not able to complete the Census online can call 1-844-330-2020 to complete their questionnaire over the phone. Residents who don’t respond in April may get a visit from a Census Bureau employee to complete the questionnaire in-person.
Most households in the United States have already received invitations from the U.S. Census Bureau to respond to the 2020 Census. Those who do not get mail at home should see a mailer in their P.O. Box in the coming days from the Nevada County Counts campaign. “We want to make sure that every person in Nevada County knows about the Census, understands its importance for our community, and takes the time to fill it out,” said Heather Heckler of Connecting Point, the organization heading up the local campaign. “Take ten minutes today and answer these nine simple questions. Our future depends on it.”