This April marks the 23rd U.S. Census count, a national effort to count every single person residing in the country, regardless of age, immigration status or homelessness.
The Census count will have a profound effect on our community for two reasons.
First, the federal government and many foundations use the count to ensure a fair distribution of resources. The count is used to distribute between $300 and $400 billion dollars to programs such as Head Start, the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program and the national school lunch program. It is also used to determine allocations to foster care, programs for the elderly, community development block grants, Section 8 housing vouchers, unemployment insurance, adult education and prisoner reentry programs.
State and local governments use the data to allocate funds for construction of public buildings, highway and transportation systems, and new roads and bridges, which create jobs.
Secondly, the count is used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state. Legislative districts are based on the complete count of everyone regardless of age or voting eligibility or immigration status. Everyone counts.
Since other states have grown rapidly over the past decade, analysts believe that if there is a significant undercount in California and we may lose a Congressional seat.
For people of color and the poor of all races/ethnicities being undercounted has been an ongoing problem, resulting in fewer resources for those who need them most.
Informed estimates state that for every person not counted, $1,000 to $1,600 in funding is lost. Taking it local, if 500 Mission residents are missed in the count we will lose, minimally, $500,000 in federal funding.
And because the next count occurs in 2020, the loss is actually five million dollars at a time when we need it the most.
The under count occurs for several reasons including legitimate fears and misconceptions. Given the ongoing xenophobia it is obvious why undocumented immigrants fear that information will be given to ICE. Renters living in overcrowded housing, and the landlords who rent to them, fear that the city will find out and evict or fine them. Parents think that their children don’t need to be counted.
The gathered information is confidential. The United States Code states that no agency, including the FBI and ICE, can have access to Census data. Courts have upheld this ruling.
Yet this assurance won’t be enough and it will take all of us doing our part to ensure that the Mission district is counted. You can do your part by:
Filling out and returning the Census form by April 1.
Joining the Mission District Complete Count Committee. Contact Martha Dueñas at Accion Latina at 415-648-1045 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Working for the Census. Bilingual applicants are in high demand. Go to www.2010Censusjobs.gov for info.
More info at http://2010.Census.gov.