SAN ANGELO, Texas — If you haven’t done so already, you have a little less than two months to complete the 2020 U.S. Census forms.
“We want to raise the numbers and get every person in Tom Green County counted so we can get our portion of the over $600B in funds that could come to our area for services that we need,” said Sherley Spears, President of the San Angelo NAACP.
The 2020 U.S. Census is designed to count every single person living in the United States and determines how federal funding is distributed to communities for vital programs like housing, education, and healthcare, along with representation in government over the next ten years.
In 1960, the U.S. government made self-reporting for the Census available. However, people had to mail in their Census questionnaires. According to Spears, now it’s easier than ever to make yourself count.
“For the first time in the history of the Census we have a new way of self-responding, which is that we can do it online,” explained Spears.
Census operations were set to begin in March. Field operations were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All counting efforts for the Census were supposed to end on October 31, 2020 but recently the government decided the new end date will be September 30, 2020.
On August 11, 2020 U.S. Census enumerators will begin making visits to households who have not yet submitted Census forms.
“When you don’t self-report, the enumerators will come to your home. If you don’t answer your door, they make an educated guess about who lives in the home, what ethnicity or race and all of that,” added Spears.
The San Angelo NAACP is part of a “Complete Count Committee” for the U.S. Census. Their duty is to make sure hard to count populations participate.
“Our goal doesn’t have to do with what color you are. It’s to make sure hard to count and marginalized populations are included,” continued Spears, “However, this week in particular is ‘African-American Census Week.’ We want to make sure every African-American, no matter what country they come from, participates to make sure they’re not undercounted.”
According to Spears, some of the most undercounted groups include those who are not citizens, men and infants. One of the reasons for this is that individuals are afraid that the information could be used against them if they are receiving a service from a social service organization. She said they shouldn’t be afraid, as the U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them confidential. Not responding to the Census can have a long-lasting impact on your community.
“You lose several million dollars over a 10 year period because they don’t count it again for 10 years. Whether it’s in the Hispanic community or the African-American community, we lose dollars into the county and city and we could possibly lose representation that we have at the congressional level,” said Spears.
If you haven’t filled out a Census form, you have three options to do so by September 30:
- Respond online at my2020census.gov
- Respond by phone at 844-330-2020
- Or, if you have the 2020 Census questionnaire you received in the mail or at your door, fill it out and mail it back
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