Every Person Counts: Census 2020 ends on Sept. 30

By Oreoluwa Ojewuyi, Staff Reporter

For residents of Carbondale, completing the 2020 census can result in funding for the university, on campus resources, scholarships, K-8 education, infrastructure, and state political representation. A complete and accurate population count impacts almost every area of public and political life. 

The decennial census is a constitutional mandate and population count of every person living in the United States, both citizen and non citizen. The 2020 Census ends on September 30th, 2020. In less than ten minutes, every person in the city can fill out a census survey. 

The process of taking the census has changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Virtual engagements have been conducted, and for the first time in history, the Census Bureau is offering an online self-response option. 

Becky Johnson is one of four partnership specialists, who oversees the 30 lower counties in the Southern Illinois region. “We have a great partnership with our city, area agencies on aging, [and] another partner is the NAACP in Carbondale,” Johnson said. 

The NAACP was awarded Census outreach grants to meet with “hard to count populations,” she said. 

Unfortunately, many populations in the area tend to slip through the cracks. 

“That can be someone who doesn’t have a residential address for example, to a senior, people in lower income communities, people that might have a disability, immigrants, people that might fear giving away their information, veterans, and actually college students,” Johnson said. 

Johnson said in response to fears of invasion of privacy, “we have to swear on the constitution that we will never violate the privacy of any person. Once your information is saved in that census data it can never be shared with any other agency.” 

Census results help determine what kind of funding that college towns like Carbondale will receive over the next 10 years. Resources like Saluki express, and the SIU Student Health Center receive federal funding partially based on an accurate population count. 

If the census received a complete count for the region, we would receive hundreds of millions of dollars over the next four years, Johnson said. 

“Every person that is counted is a part of the funding stream,” Johnson said. “It factors in for food stamps, how many students in your community could be a part of your meals on wheels funding stream, how many people in your community qualify for medicaid, hospital funding, college scholarships.”

Beyond the benefits of federal and state funding, a complete census count also affects national politics including the Electoral College, and the number of congressional seats each state receives according to census.gov. 

John Jackson, visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, is a member of the Carbondale Complete Count Committee, which is trying to encourage everyone in the southern Illinois region to register. 

“The number of votes Illinois has in the Electoral College are [directly] determined by how many people we have, [as well as] the number of congressional districts we have,” Jackson said.

Illinois is in danger of losing two congressional seats if the census return rate remains at 46%, Jackson said, weakening the state politically on national and state levels. 

According to census.gov, the end date for census 2020 data collection and non-response follow-up for households who have yet to respond to the census is Sept. 30, 2020.

The census captures the count of where a student lived on April 1,  2020. SIU students who left Carbondale before April 1 will need to complete the census for the Carbondale area if they have not done so already. 

Students living on or off campus in Carbondale can complete the 2020 Census using their Carbondale address. New students should complete the census with the address they were residing at on April 1. 

You can visit census.gov to complete your count now. 

Staff reporter Oreoluwa Ojewuyi can be reached by email at [email protected]
or on Twitter @
oojewuyi.

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