By now you know that 2020 is the year of the US Census. And although the push to get everyone in the country counted has been massive, there are still some misconceptions about the nationwide endeavor that happens every decade. Instead of standing up and being counted, many mistakenly fear that the census and census officials are looking for information to use against individuals or families. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as the census is used to get an accurate count of how many people are in this country so that valuable services, infrastructure, even representation in government can be accurately based.
If the government doesn’t have an accurate count, it will be more difficult for federal, state, county and city, to provide services that benefit you. The number of people counted in your neighborhood is used to determine everything from how many Congressman represent your area, to what retailers, banks, grocery stores and other businesses open in your community.
Help Build a Better Future for Everyone
Does the census have any tangible effects on me or my family, you might ask? Estimates from the US Census Bureau calculate that $1,445 per person, per year is at risk for each individual that is not counted. That means a family with three young children – and young children are the group least likely to be counted – could mean almost $6,000 in funding that won’t be directed to Florida and Miami-Dade County. Now, just multiply that by potentially thousands of undercounted individuals as is believed to have happened the last time the census was taken, 2010, and the effects could be staggering.
While an undercount will have negative consequences, a correct accounting can do great things for your neighborhood. It makes sure there are the right number of schools and fire departments and what roads, parks and hospitals are put in your neighborhood.
The census count determines the right amount of money to support education, healthcare, housing, roads, parks, schools and other critical programs like Medicaid, SNAP, Head Start and others. In real dollars, it means close to $45 billion of funding across Florida.
It’s Easy, Safe and Confidential
Because it is so important that each individual, no matter how old or young is counted, the US Census has made it as easy as possible to be counted. There are a number of ways to take the census, including online, on the phone (in a call or with a smartphone), through the mail, or in person by visiting public kiosks at post offices, libraries or community centers. The census is also available in 13 languages online or on the phone, with paper forms available in English and Spanish, and with guides in another 59 languages.
As well as being easy, it’s safe as the information provided must be guarded by Census Bureau employees, by law. There was some concern that the 2020 Census would ask individuals about their citizenship status in this country, but that won’t happen this year. In fact, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households or even business to law enforcement, federal agencies and even the President.
And while the importance and safety of the US Census should be enough to spur everyone to participate, it is also incumbent on individuals to view it as part of their civic duty when living in this country. Stand up and be counted and do your part so your community, county, state and this country can get the best information about its current population. The more we know, the better we can tackle all the issues before us.
Helpful Guide to US Census Related Information
What is the census?
The census is a headcount of every person living in the United States as required by the US Constitution every 10 years.
Why is it Important?
The census provides information that lawmakers, business owners, teachers and others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. The results are used to determine how many seats each state will have in the US House of Representatives and to draw congressional and state legislative districts.
How do you participate in the census?
Online, by phone or through the mail. You can also visit census kiosks at locations like post offices, libraries or community centers.
The 2020 Census is already underway, but there are some important dates coming up and for the rest of the year.
March 12-20: Household will receive official census mail with information on how to respond online, by phone or through mail.
March 30-April 1: For these three days, homeless populations will be counted at shelters, soup kitchens, on the streets and tent encampments, among other locations.
April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this day, every home should have received an invitation to participate.
April: Census takers will visit college students on campus, senior centers and others who live among large groups.
May-July: Census takers will visit homes that haven’t responded.
December: Census Bureau will deliver counts to President and Congress.
Organizations and Resources
United States Census 2020: the official US government page for everything about the US Census. It is available in 59 languages.
Miami-Dade Counts: A collaborative effort of local and national funders to help ensure everyone in Miami-Dade is Counted
The Miami-Dade County 2020 Census homepage
National League of Cities Grant Opportunity