Have you filled out the 2020 census? If not, why? Simply put, the Census does two major things for us, it determines our representation in Congress and it determines the amount of federal funding we receive in our communities.
By Jennifer Hall Lee
Filling out the census form is called self-reporting and the information is safe and secure. It does not endanger anyone’s undocumented status because “by law your responses cannot be held against you.” Your report is confidential.
Of all the things I have researched I never thought the Census would draw my attention, but it did. The importance of the Census and the details of what the numbers provide to us is understated in our society. The Census is serious business.
California is on the verge of losing a congressional seat
Before we get into what we receive from the Census let’s start with an unsettling fact: California is on the verge of losing a congressional seat as a result of the high cost of housing in our state. More people are moving out than moving in because it’s really expensive to live here. If we lose a seat in Congress, we also lose one of our electoral votes.
Undercounting of young children
Here is another unsettling fact: There is a reasonable concern that children under five years old will be undercounted in the 2020 census because in the 2010 census approximately 1 million children under five were not counted. This undercounting of young children has been a negative trend since 1980. This is a shortfall that needs to be shored up. Close the gap.
Vital to our lives
The Census is vital to our lives. I can’t list everything here that we have as the result of Census numbers, but as a resident of Altadena I can give you two good examples that illustrate the need for accurate census reporting, our schools and the senior center.
The federal government pays for school lunches for low-income children and Census numbers determine the amount of money we receive. If children in need of school lunches are undercounted in the census the students will still get a lunch, but the money for those lunches must come from other sources. Additionally, the services we provide for Special Education in our schools are all determined from the Census. If we undercount our children we put a financial squeeze on PUSD.
The Senior Center in Altadena is another good reason for filling out your census form. Our Senior Center is funded through Los Angeles County. If the seniors who depend on the daily lunch program at the Senior Center are undercounted in the 2020 Census the County must fill the shortfall from other funds.
The Census affects all of us
There is a long list of services we receive from the Census Report and the list is lengthy. It includes libraries, Head Start, Medi-Cal, SNAP, Section 8 Housing, Meals on Wheels, transportation, highway planning, and more. The Census affects all of us.
The Census report also determines our congressional boundaries and the number of seats we have in Congress. After the completion of the 2010 Census Altadena was removed from what was the 29th Congressional District (Congressman Adam Schiff) and we became part of the 27th District (Congresswoman Judy Chu). And as I stated earlier, California may lose a congressional seat due to our changing population. Let’s count everyone in the 2020 census.
We need census numbers now more than ever
If the Census of 2020 shows an undercount of people then our financial problems will be compounded by the fact that the California state budget is projecting a shortfall of 54.3 billion dollars due to the covid-19 pandemic. This means that k-12 education is targeted for budget cuts. We need census numbers now more than ever and people of every age must be counted.
For yourself and everyone you love
As you can see the Census report is a big part of local and state government and with the Census Report comes change, let’s make these changes positive and beneficial.
When we fill out our Census form we are standing up and being counted. Please fill out your census form today for yourself and everyone you love.
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