Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

The 2020 census has come to Boulder County


March 25, 2020 | View PDF

In 1787, the United States' founding fathers wrote the census into the constitution and since then, there have been 22 censuses. The 2020 iteration will be nearly as revolutionary as the nation's first, because this is the first census with an online option for reporting.

"It's never been easier [to self-report] on your own," said Philip Kleisler, a senior planner for the City of Boulder.

This year, US citizens will be able to self-report their households' size either by phone, mail, online, and potentially in person. "We've had a lot of work with our community partners, we've hired 21 cultural brokers, [which are] trusted community members, to reach 'hard to reach communities," explained Kleisler. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, "Now we're really having to switch gears and go more virtual."

The original plan was to send out mail reminders in early March. Then, starting on March 12, the census would go live and be available for online and phone reporting. Near the end of March, shelters and other service based locations were supposed to help conduct interviews with hard to reach communities (children under five, non-English speakers, the homeless and people with mental/physical limitations, for example) and census takers would be deployed to interview others in this category as well.

Instead, these shelters and census takers have been instructed to leave paper questionnaires. Mobile questionnaire assistance events have been postponed until April 13 and door knocking will be delayed until April 23.

But even though it may be difficult to report in person, it's vital for all citizens to participate. An accurate census count affects how much federal funding the state receives and it also affects Colorado's national political standing. Population projections from the last census show that Colorado might gain another seat in the House of Representatives, for example.

The census accuracy is crucial at the state and local levels. According to Census Media Specialist Laurie Cipriano, if you do not participate, you're "throwing money away." In a press release from the Boulder County Commissioners, they broke down the numbers--approximately each Boulder County resident annually brings in $2,300 in federal funding. If one person is missed, that's a loss of approximately $23,000 per person over the course of ten years.

Kleisler said, "At a local level, as we're planning for city services, we rely on census data pretty heavily. As we grow as a city, the question gets down to 'who are we trying to serve?'" So, without accurate counts, it makes it more difficult for the local and state governments to serve all individuals in their communities.

This is why cultural brokers and community partners are important to getting the word out about the census. "As is the case with many minority groups, LGBTQ individuals and families have historically been undercounted in the Census due to lack of information, fear, and other barriers," said a March 11 press release from One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. However, those barriers can and do apply to other groups, which is some of the impetus behind making the census available in a variety of languages online, for one.

The Census Bureau and Boulder County recognize that some groups are underrepresented, which is why the organizations are making the effort to make self-reporting accessible. In order to increase representation and accessibility to other community resources, it is crucial to participate in the census.

For more information, you can visit http://www.2020census.gov, and Boulder County's page, http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/planning/2020-census has a video that explains its importance as well.

To self-report online, go to http://www.my2020census.gov.


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