By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Coronavirus fears nearly eclipsed another big happening in the United States this week – the 2020 U.S. Census. Starting on Monday, 95 percent of Texas households began receiving census invitations in the mail.
The invitations ask residents to go online and fill out a quick questionnaire that will count all members of their household. The other 5 percent of the population will receive hand-delivered questionnaires or an in-person count, such as in very remote areas and some Native American areas.
Over the years, the way census data is gathered has adapted with new technology. This year, more census responses are expected to take place online at https://2020census.gov/.
“While you can still respond all the ways that you have in the past, through paper response, by phone or in person with a census taker, we are actually pushing for online responses,” said Krista Fabregas, a partnership specialist for the Dallas Regional Census Bureau.
Fabregas spoke to Liberty County commissioners at their Tuesday morning meeting to ask for help in getting the word out that the census has begun and how it is imperative that every resident is counted.
“It’s important. It brings money back into a community. It impacts schools,” Fabregas said.
The census numbers are also used to determine representation in Congress. Fabregas said some early indicators from the U.S. Census Bureau suggest that Texas could pick up four more members of Congress while California may be losing some positions.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, data collected in the census will “inform the distribution of more than $675 million in federal funds to states and communities each year for things like infrastructure, healthcare and food assistance.”
Every person must be counted regardless of race, religion, citizenship, marital status and socio-economic status.
“Be sure to count everyone who lives in your home on your 2020 Census Form. This includes babies and young children, who are often missed in the census,” the Bureau reports.
Historically, Fabregas said a particular section of Cleveland is the toughest area in Liberty County for participation in the census. In some past censuses, participation in this area is 30 percent.
“We are asking people to self-respond as early as possible if they don’t want someone knocking on their door,” she said.
For the hard-to-count populations particularly, Fabregas said it is important that these residents understand the survey is safe and confidential, and has an impact on programs such as CHIPS and WIC.
For non-English speakers, the census supports up to 13 languages by phone and up to 60 languages online or in-person interviews.
The self-response push officially ends on April 30. In early May, census takers will start combing neighborhoods, going directly to homes where the online surveys have gone ignored.
“Our counts are over on July 31. That’s when we start getting all the data ready,” Fabregas said.
On Dec. 31, the census data will be delivered to the U.S. president.
The census was created to be quick and easy, with 10 questions that take no more than 10 minutes to answer. However, the consequences for a community can long-lasting.
“Think about the repercussions for 10 years,” said Liberty County Judge Jay Knight. “There are certain thresholds in county government. Even a population of 125,000 can drastically affect the pocketbook of the county by [triggering] things that we are mandated to pay such as juvenile justice.”
Knight encourages every resident of Liberty County – whether here legally or illegally – to respond to the Census and be counted.
“Just tell us you are here,” Knight said.
U.S. CENSUS IS HIRING
The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring for entry level, mid-career and supervisory/managerial positions. The entry level positions do not require prior experience and are well-suited for candidates who recently completed a degree. For more information on U.S. Census Bureau jobs, go online to https://www.census.gov/about/census-careers.html