FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – The United States is taking roll call with the 2020 Census. The Census happens once every 10 years and not only is it a legal requirement, it plays a very important role in getting you and your community the resources it needs.
Project Lead for the Fresno County Census Katherine Martindale says the operation cannot be pushed back – even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In spite of COVID-19, the Census cannot be delayed as it is set by the Constitution,” said Martindale. “So, completing it still needs to be a priority. By counting everyone, we ensure vital Federal and State dollars come to our County. Here in the Valley, we are often underfunded and this is our chance to affect what money comes to Fresno County.”
Besides determining political seats, the census provides billions of dollars in federal funding to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources, based on its data. Making sure every person is accounted for means more money.
“The Central Valley is considered one of the hard-to-count regions in the state of California,” said Jesus Martinez, the Executive Director of Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative or CVIIC and on a member of the California Complete Count Committee.
“Because we have many of the characteristics of what we call hard-to-count–people who live in rural areas who have low access to broadband internet, people who have limited knowledge to English, minorities among other things, people who are homeless.”
Since the Census is only every 10 years, Martinez says different reports are finding that every one person not counted could lose the state or region thousands of dollars.
“Among Latino immigrant families, there are very often a lot of misconceptions about what the census is, the questions that it includes or doesn’t include. So one of the things we want to ensure families in general, is that the Census is a process that is constitutionally mandated, that the federal government has to carry out every ten years that has to include every person that is residing in this country, that their privacy is going to be protected, that it also doesn’t ask any question about their immigration status,” said Martinez.
The Census Bureau has made it even easier this year to make yourself count: for the first time, it’s offering responses online. So far just over a third of Fresno County responded, which is just behind the statewide response rate.