Why a Community Alliance for the 2020 Census
The Census results determine how much federal funding is allocated to each state, as well as how many seats in the US House of Representatives. Washington State stands to lose $19,000 for every person not counted. Unfortunately, due the fear-based policies under the current administration, Census 2020 is at grave risk for severe undercounting, which will greatly jeopardize funding for critical services.
Meanwhile, we have organizations led and served by communities of color who are instrumental to the outreach efforts. Due to the heightened fear regarding any government interaction inspired by the Trump Administration, these trusted groups play critical roles. To compound the challenges, there are many organizations that care about the Census, but have not had the funding or the time to coordinate services. This year, a group of these organizations came together to form the Census Organizing Alliance to coordinate efforts, strengthen collaborations, and develop a program that will provide organizations led by and serving communities of color with the staffing and support they need to be engaged in the Census.
WA Census Alliance Statewide Summit
February 1st and 2nd, 2019
Yakama Nation Legends Casino and Hotel
580 Fort Rd, Toppenish, WA 98948
Join the Washington Census Alliance February 1-2 in Yakima, WA. This will be a two-day summit for People of Color led organizations to strategize and coordinate for a safe and complete count of our communities. This summit is an opportunity to learn the impact of the Census on our families and loved ones as well as develop best practices for Communities of Color. The Alliance will cover the cost of food, room and board, and mileage reimbursements for attendees. We encourage organizations to send 1-2 staff members who are able to make programmatic decisions for the organization.
Costs: This will be a sponsored summit.
Room and board: Summit attendees will stay at the Yakama Nation Legends Casino and Hotel. The Alliance will cover the cost of one room for each organization. Each room will have two queen size beds.
Food: The Alliance will cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the conference.
Travel: Each organization will be able to receive mileage reimbursement (.54c per mile) for one car. If you do not have transportation, please reach out to Jackie Vaughn for assistance coordinating carpool.
Why does the census matter?
What is at stake in an undercounted Census?
ResourcesHundreds of federal financial assistance programs rely on data derived from the Census to guide the geographic distribution of funds to states, counties, cities, and households. In 2015, Washington received about $14 billion, about $2,000 per person, for the 16 largest Census-guided programs, which include:
- Highway Planning and Construction
- Special Education Grants
- School Lunch Programs
- Head Start/Early Head Start
- Health Center Programs
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance
- Foster Care, and Children’s Health Insurance Program
There is a high risk of losing crucial resources for Washington communities and service providers in a Census undercounted state.
RepresentationA main function of Census data is to reapportion states for both Congressional and Legislative seats so that new boundary lines for voting districts can be drawn. For example, based on 2010 Census data, Washington State’s population grew 14.1% from 200. With that growth, Washington earned a 10th seat in Congress. Voting districts are determined by the total number of people living in an area, not just the number of voters or citizens. The boundary drawing process, called redistricting, determines the political representation of all communities. Making sure that all people in all communities are counted in the 2020 Census, could dramatically change the ways in which the districts are drawn. The redistricting process can keep communities together or split them apart. It can also change who wins an election – and ultimately which party controls Congress or the Legislature.
Who is traditionally undercounted and why does this matter?
This undercount impacts everyone—especially those who are historically underrepresented and those who also provide and utilize Census-guided programs at higher rates.For the Census Bureau, this HTC term includes racial minorities, young children, lower income persons, people who do not speak English fluently, undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, LGBTQ individuals, people experiencing homelessness, and those with severe distrust of the government. These are the very communities that are in need of equal representation in our government. If they are not counted accurately in the Census, they are at risk of being further disenfranchised from our government and services. Geographically, for the State of Washington, these areas include parts of South Seattle and King County, such as White Center, Burien, Tukwila, SeaTac, Renton, Kent, Auburn Des Moines, and Federal Way; Grant, Walla Walla, Benton, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Kitsap, and East Snohomish counties.
Why the 2020 Census is at risk of an even more significant population undercount?
Insufficient funding for Field OperationsThe Census Bureau has been underfunded for the 2020 cycle, causing a delay in planning and staffing operations. Experts recommend that the 2020 Census operations require an additional $194 million to the $1.654 billion currently requested for fiscal year 2018. To compare, the 2010 Census cost $13 billion. This underfunding has already resulted in canceled tests including two in Washington State and scaled back operations that affects outreach strategies for Hard-to-Count-communities.
The Citizenship QuestionFor the first time in 70 years the Census is planning to include a question asking if you are a U.S. citizen or not. This question creates an enormous fear and distrust in for native-and foreign-born, citizen and non-citizen households – about the confidentiality of their personal information and how government authorities may use that information. As of now the question still remains in the Census questionnaire leaving a huge task for community leaders and allies to organize to remove it and to prepare for a challenging work ahead if the question becomes official.
The state of our federal government and its openly hostile policies towards people of color, immigrants, and low-income individuals causes well-founded distrust and trepidation about the Census.
The Digital DivideTo help close the funding gap, the Census Bureau has opted to use internet response options over traditional mail and canvasser outreach in 2020. Although this may be an initial cost-saving measure, it puts HTC communities and rural populations at risk of an undercount, including areas with limited to no access to broadband. Ensuring that historically marginalized communities are counted correctly in the 2020 Census is the first step to ensuring that they receive needed government resources and are represented in the redistricting process and policy debate moving forward.
Census 2020 Operational plan Executive Summary
Representation and Redistricting
Census Bureau timeline
Fact Sheet on Census undercount
Census Bureau Engagement tool
“The Census is a Threat to Communities of Color.” NAACP General Counsel Bradford Berry. The Washington Post. April 30, 2018.
Young Children in the Census
- Hard to Count: Young Children and Their Communities
Latinos in the Census
Asian American in the Census
- Will You Count? Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) in the 2020 Census
African American in the Census
American Indian in the Census
Middle Eastern and North African Americans in the Census
Homelessness and the Census
Low Income households in the Census
Renters in the Census
LGBTQ communities in the Census
Understanding the Hard to count Areas
2020 Census specific challenges
- Insufficient funding, for 2020 Census
The Citizenship Question
- FULL HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt had terrific opening remarks.
The Digital Divide
The Census Project Blog.
“Congress wanted to grill the Trump official responsible for the census citizenship question. He didn’t show up.” Alvin Chang. Vox. May 8, 2018.
“How Republicans are undermining the 2020 census, explained with a cartoon.” Alvin Chang. Vox. May 8, 2018.
“The citizenship question on the 2020 census, explained.” Dara Lind. Vox. March 28, 2018.
“Accurate 2020 Census a Priority for Inslee.” Governor Jay Inslee’s Staff. Medium. April 11, 2018.
“The 2020 Census received much more funding in the House spending bill than advocates had anticipated.” The Washington Post. March 22, 2018.