Photo via U.S. Census Bureau
With the majority of Americans still currently under a stay-at-home order, COVID-19 has impacted our daily lives in unprecedented ways.
Even in difficult times like these, people are looking for ways to help. From hand-making masks for service workers to supporting local businesses through takeout orders to volunteering with food banks, community members have stepped up for one another.
While social distancing is the number one most important thing that we can all do right now, filling out the 2020 Census is arguably the second. Completing the Census, which can now be done online, is one of the simplest ways to fulfill our civic duty without having to step outside.
There’s a lot at stake. Getting an accurate count is crucial to ensuring that Arizona gets its fair share of representation and funding for not only the next decade but also the next time a crisis like this pandemic hits. The results of the 2020 Census will be used to determine the level of decision-making power that we have on all levels of government. It also serves as the basis of funding allocations for some of our most critical services and programs, including food drives for communities in low-income areas and supportive housing programs.
According to new data from the Fair Census Project and Civis Analytics, a Census undercount in Maricopa County will likely have the second greatest unfair impact when determining federal funding and congressional representation. It’s estimated that more than 70,000 Maricopa residents will be left out of the 2020 Census, resulting in a potential loss of $13.2 million that can go towards building up our community’s resources and health.
Historically, several groups in Maricopa County have been undercounted. In the last Census, Maricopa County had the second-highest number of undercounted Latino children in the nation, leading our children to have an underfunded public education system for the past decade. Those living in rural areas, including our tribal nations, have also been notoriously overlooked and excluded from the decennial count.
In our immigrant and undocumented communities, fear-mongering and increased government mistrust have posed major hurdles. These groups will continue to be ignored or marginalized if they are not counted. We each deserve to have a voice and livelihood, and we cannot let our communities give that up.
This pandemic has already greatly impacted and delayed the outreach planned by the U.S. Census Bureau and groups on the ground. At One Arizona, almost all outreach efforts have had to be transferred online, including through online giveaways and a virtual dance party to promote the Census. Getting everyone counted is something that we need all hands on deck for.
Right now, it’s vital that we stay at home and flatten the curve to allow for opportunities in the future for canvassers to do the in-person outreach that needs to be done, especially in areas that are traditionally harder to count, rural, or lack reliable internet and landlines. By self-responding to the Census and spreading the word to our networks, we can each do our part at home to ensure that the negative impacts of this pandemic aren’t further exacerbated.
Filling out the Census in the safety of our own homes has never been easier. Not only can it be filled out by phone or mail, but this year also marks the first time that the Census can be completed online at my2020census.gov. The best way to make sure that our community is protected and that it gets the support it needs to get back on its feet is to get counted.
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