Census push begins at city council

Organizers of the U.S. Census are hoping Keizerites do a bit better this time around. 

Kirstin Stein, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, used data as a call to arms when it comes to responding to the U.S. Census in 2020. 

“Not responding means millions and millions of dollars Oregon doesn’t get,” Stein said. “People don’t understand the cost of not responding.”

Only three-quarters of city residents participated in the 2010 Census count and that means we left money on the table when it came to federal funding, to the tune of more than $29 million in the past decade. 

Every 10 years, the U.S. Government is required to execute a national census, a count of all the country’s residents, that informs a wide variety of local, state and national matters. 

“It helps determine how much money will be put into Head Start or school breakfast programs and informs decisions about where to put schools and hospitals,” Stein said. 

Perhaps most importantly, the numbers are used to properly distribute the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The Census Bureau is making efforts to ease the process of responding. Starting March 12, 2020, residents will be able to respond to the Census online, by phone and on paper. In-person census-takers will also visit the addresses of those who don’t respond via one of the self-response methods. All mailed items will be available in English and Spanish, but online responses and other methods will be offered in more than a dozen languages. Every public library will also be outfitted with a station to complete the Census form. 

Combined with a number of limitations on disclosure of Census data – ranging from lifetime oaths to laws outright prohibiting it – there are fewer excuses available for not participating. 

Stein said several segments of the population continue to be hard to reach or elicit responses from, they include: renters, seniors, foreign-born residents, homeless residents and migrant workers. Accounting for children, especially those living with grandparents, has also proven tough. 

The type of information gathered during Census efforts include: name, address, gender, race, phone numbers, ages, date of birth, names of others living at the same addresses and the relationships between individuals.

While much political hay was made over the possible inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, it will not be included this time around. 

In addition to all the efforts to reach new responders, Stein said there are other ways to get involved. 

“We’re still recruiting enumerators to knock on doors and forming Complete Count Committees to help with getting the word out,” she said.