2020 Census campaign gets underway this week
KENNEWICK, Wash. — Millions of dollars in federal funds are available for local governments around the country, and residents can help bring that money to their community by filling out a short survey.
Local cities, including Kennewick, Richland and Pasco have acknowledged March 9-14 as Census Awareness Week, as the 2020 Census gets underway.
“It affects every family and every business in our community for the next decade,” said LoAnn Ayers, president & CEO of United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties.
Census Day is officially April 1, but on Thursday the Census survey will be available to take online. Invitations to take the survey will also start getting sent out to the majority of households around the country this week.
The government uses the Census to allocate more than $675 billion in federal funding to local and state governments. That money is used to fund school programs, healthcare programs and city infrastructure. A person not counted in 2020 is basically “lost” for the next ten years.
“For every person that responds, the community will get $2,300 worth of federal funds every year for 10 years,” said Ayers. “You take less than 10 minutes and that’s worth $23,000 for your community, that’s amazing.”
Additionally, district lines for state legislative seats are based on data collected through the Census, which could result in more or less congressional representation for communities.
During the last Census, around 30 percent of residents in Franklin County and Benton County didn’t respond.
“That means for the last decade we’ve been getting less than our fair share of federal money,” said Ayers. “We’ve been paying it in like good taxpayers but not getting our fair share back.”
All households receiving an invitation in the mail will receive a second letter in the mail shortly after reminding them to respond. In areas where 20 percent or more of the households are Spanish-speakers, the invitations will be in both English and Spanish. For those responding online, the survey will be available in 13 languages.
At a certain point, households that still haven’t responded will receive a series of additional reminders. In April, Census takers will follow up with households by knocking on doors.
Ayers said it is important to keep an eye out for scams. People have already been carrying out scams over the phone, online and even going door-to-door. For online responses, it’s important to make sure the website ends in dot-gov as opposed to dot-com. If a Census worker knocks on your door, they should have identification that looks similar to a driver’s license and an ID number that you can look up online.
Those who are worried about privacy don’t need to be concerned about sharing information. The Census Bureau is prohibited to share information with agencies like the IRS and law enforcement, and Census takers could face up to 5 years in jail if they leak any information they have gathered.
For more information on the 2020 Census, click here.
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