Every ten years the United States does a nationwide count of every living person within its 50 states and five territories. The Census is mandated by the U.S. constitution and we’ve been doing it since 1790. But it’s not just an exercise in tradition. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. And Congress uses the totals for each state and region to divvy up billions of dollars in federal funding for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and more. Unfortunately, the Latinx community has historically been undercounted due to a range of barriers, including a mistrust of the government. Other historically hard to count communities include farmworkers, non-English speakers, families with children 0-5, rural residents and veterans. But filling out the census is safe and confidential for everyone in our community. Census Bureau staff cannot release any identifiable information about respondents, even to law enforcement agencies. The Census does not include a citizenship question and the Census is for all citizens and non-citizens living in the U.S. Corazón Healdsburg wants to make sure we’re all counted in Sonoma County in this year’s Census, even as the COVID-19 health crisis and our statewide shelter-in-place order make it harder for us to connect in person with our community. Corazón first began working on the Census in the summer of 2018 when the Latino Community Foundation awarded us and eight other North Bay Latinx-serving organizations a grant to engage with our respective communities about the Census. Corazón used the grant to recruit and train 20 community members to become our "Líderes Formando Nuestro Futuro,” and then in October 2019, we dispatched these leaders to resource fairs, community celebrations and events to educate the public about the importance of the Census. In late 2019, Corazón was awarded a grant from United Way of the Wine Country and First 5 Sonoma County to continue this important work. The COVID-19 crisis means we can no longer canvas door-to-door like we planned, nor will there be many public events or other opportunities to address a large number of people in person at once. Instead we have moved our information sharing onto social media and we are reminding everyone we interact with by phone or email about the Census. We’re weaving it into our resource center calls, we’re sharing information about how and why to fill it out at our food distributions and we’re regularly posting informative videos, graphics and texts on social media. The focus of all of our messaging is that filling out the census is safe and critical for our community. The federal government has extended the deadline to respond until August 14, giving our community a couple of extra weeks to be counted. Anyone can complete the Census questionnaire online, via telephone, or via mail. Please visit 2020census.gov to complete your questionnaire or learn more. And please encourage your friends and family to take part in the 2020 Census as well!
Sharing the Importance of the Census during COVID-19 Health Crisis
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