You probably have no idea how much is riding on the upcoming 2020 census.
We’re here to help by reporting on the LWVOC Hot Topics program Wednesday. A savvy panel, moderated by Nancy Alvarez of WFTV-Channel 9, enumerated many of the reasons for getting the census right.
While there is the obviousness of gaining districts in Florida’s congressional delegation (the state is expected to pick up two seats in the House of Representatives as a result of the population counted by the census), the figures also determine federal funding for health care, senior services, small businesses, childhood programs like Head Start, fire and law-enforcement agencies, roadwork, housing and more.
People will have three ways to respond when the forms go out, beginning March 12: mail, phone, online. They’ll be encouraged to fill out the form online. If they don’t, they will later be mailed a form. By phone, responders can speak with census workers fluent in 17 languages.
The Hot Topics panel members – Jackie Colon of the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials; Channa Lloyd, Central Florida Partnership Specialist for the census; and Lavon Williams, manager of the Orange County Community Action Division – emphasized reaching everyone so as to avoid undercounting.
They have partnership plans in order to reach undercounted pockets among the homeless, nursing home residents, the working poor, college students, renters and others. Colon said the state loses about $2,000 per each uncounted person.
Florida is one of the last states to establish a committee to encourage census participation. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the formation of the committee just this week. According to Jackie Colon, the committee has no funding, however. “I’m trying to be positive, but it is too little too late.”
A total of $7 trillion in federal money will be allocated throughout the 2020s based on results of the census count. “The dollars follow the numbers,” said Channa Lloyd.
Panelists recommended that League members get out the word about the importance of the every-10-years count – via social media, distributing flyers and alerting civic organizations and churches.