It’s a new year and a new decade. That means it’s time for the decennial census which, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has occurred every ten years since 1790. The census is an important part of our democracy, helping to determine the allocation of community resources. Its impact on our day to day life can’t be understated: from congressional representation to resources for local transportation infrastructure, education, new schools, public health programs, and so much more.
Each year, millions of dollars in emergency financial assistance flow through Crisis Assistance Ministry to Mecklenburg County families facing eviction and utility disconnection, based on census data. Individuals like Courtney and Schawniekaw.
Sadly, those who are most likely to benefit from federal aid are also the least likely to be counted during the census. Even though a response is required, racial/ethnic minorities, the elderly, and low-income renters face multiple challenges to completing the census. These include language/literacy barriers, poor internet access, transiency, and lack of clarity about who should complete the census for their household.
That’s why we agreed to co-chair a MeckCounts 2020 sub-committee focused on hard-to-count populations. Our committee is hard at work connecting with trusted members of these communities, building on their existing relationships. These grassroots ambassadors will leverage their natural rapport to convey the vital importance of completing the census and help reassure members of these vulnerable groups that the process is safe.
Given that many of the individuals who seek assistance at Crisis Assistance Ministry are part of these undercounted groups, we will be making a concerted effort to educate and assist them in completing the census. If you have connections to these communities, we hope you’ll also be part of such efforts.
For the first time in 2020, the census will be online, making it more convenient to complete. If people can’t complete it online, they can still participate by phone. In the census, every person matters and we hope that every one of you will be counted. Working together, we hope hard-working neighbors like those we meet here every day will be counted too.
Census Day is April 1, 2020. Make it Count!
Daniel Valdez is Director of North Carolina and Mid-South Operations of Hispanic Federation.
Carol Hardison is CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry.
Together, they co-chair the Community Based Organizations Sub-Committee for MeckCounts 2020.