Did you know that just 10 minutes of your time could earn around $950 in federal funds for your family, our community and our neighbors? Just 10 minutes can help ensure that we don’t miss out on a decade of funding for the things we all rely on, like roads, schools and health care programs. Taking the 2020 Census is one of the quickest and easiest ways you can make a lasting impact on your community – and you don’t even have to leave your home to do it. You can take it securely online today at www.My2020Census.gov in 13 languages or call 844-330-2020.
As of early September, about 65 percent of Pinellas households had responded by mail, online or phone. That’s the second highest self-response rate among Florida’s large counties, but our community is still at risk for an undercount.
A sense of pride isn’t the only thing at stake if people are missed in this year’s count. Census results determine how billions of federal dollars will be distributed across Florida for the next 10 years and our level of political representation in Congress. Florida lost $946 in federal funds for every person who was not counted in the 2010 Census – a total of $20 billion in losses – according to a recent Tampa Bay Times story.
Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau moved its deadline for the count to September 30, a month earlier than previously planned. While a last-minute court decision could extend that, we can only plan on having a couple weeks left to complete the count. Census Bureau workers are currently going door-to-door to follow up with homes that haven’t been counted. They’re wearing masks and practicing social distancing, but you can still complete the census yourself to avoid that knock at your door.
If you haven’t been counted yet, go online or call today, then tell your friends and neighbors to do the same. Remember: Census responses are secure, confidential and protected by law, and the survey only asks a few basic questions about your household, such as name, age, sex, and race/ethnicity. It does not ask for sensitive personal data like Social Security numbers or even citizenship status.
As our kids go back to school and more of us head back to the office, remember that the roads we drive on and the schools our children attend are funded based on census data. As we continue the fight against COVID-19 in our community, remember that census data are used to determine funding for health care programs and determine where hospitals and clinics are built. And as we pass through peak hurricane season, remember the census helps us prepare for and recover from emergencies. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure everyone is counted.
Think of the few minutes that you take filling out the census as an investment that will build a better community for our children, friends and neighbors for years to come.
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We only get one shot to take the census every 10 years, and we need everyone to do their part. Can we count on you?
Kenneth T. Welch is a Pinellas County commissioner and chairman of the Pinellas Complete County Committee.