We all deserve to live in an equitable community that has limitless amenities with the people we love. The American Dream! To many, it’s still a dream. Countless citizens feel powerless and silenced to the loud roar of the government. However, many are unaware of how the Census data shapes the future of our community and defines our voice in congress.
The data tells a social, economic, and demographic story, and all policymakers rely on this data to make decisions that reflect the country’s democratic goals. Theoretically, by not completing the census we are silencing ourselves. The census is one way we can hold lawmakers and businesses accountable. Wow! We have more power than we thought.
The 2020 Census is a count of everyone who lives in the U.S. Large decisions on the direction of our country, for the next decade, rest on the results of this is one survey. Unfortunately, the census importance factors seem small.
So how exactly is the census connected to our everyday life?
When individuals and families have housing assistance, they are able to spend more of their income on food and health care, therefore supporting the economic growth of the community. The U.S. government uses the census to decide what amount of housing assistance will go to each state. The size of a state’s population and the number of people living in different types of housing dictates the funds received for this purpose. If citizens do not complete the census form or list everyone living in a residence the overall census count for their community is lower and inaccurate. This inaccuracy can lead to unequal access to vital public and private resources for these groups and their communities.
The 2020 Census count impacts the federal funds that communities receive each year for programs and services that are critical for schools, students, and younger children, such as:
For a moment imagine yourself driving to work and then out of nowhere you hit a pothole. You guessed it! The Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems. Funds support the planning, construction, and maintenance of highways and bridges; and dictate when and where they are built.
The highway planning and construction program helps states plan, build, improve, and maintain their portions of the national highway systems, while funds from Community Development Block Grants are used by communities to build and repair streets, bridges, and alleys.
The population numbers also affect the amount of federal dollars allocated to a particular district, parish, town, or community. Places with high recorded populations typically receive higher amounts of federal funding to pay for things such as hospitals, welfare services, the number of jobs in a town to the number of fire hydrants in a certain neighborhood. Residents who do not respond to the census may contribute to their own communities losing money.
Such undercounts have occurred in historically marginalized and low-income communities. The data collected affects our nation’s ability to ensure equal representation and equal access to important governmental and private sector resources for all Americans.
Political representation matters. In the late 1700’s slaves were considered three-fifths of a person. Due to this representation of a community the South gained a bonus in the House of Representatives and laws passed to protect slavery. Our survey has the power to redistribute political power and rewrite the congressional and state legislative districts. The U.S. uses the data collected to reapportion legislative seats that gives states and regions more or less political power. Due to the responses from the census, Louisiana has lost two electoral seats in the past, which affected the amount of federal money allocated to a particular district, parish, town, or community.
As you can see our voice speaks louder than we thought. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children. Business owners rely on results to make decisions, of where to open new stores, restaurants, factories, where to recruit employees, and which products and services to offer.
Currently, Louisiana is ranked 45th in the nation for the Census Bureau’s self-response ratings. Unfortunately, with this result Louisiana is literally handing away billions of dollars. Do not allow your voice to be silenced. Think of missing data as missing money that is owed to you. Your response is connected to generational progression.
The mission of Mid City Redevelopment Alliance is to develop and promote the growth and renewal of Mid City Baton Rouge by attracting new and retaining current residents and businesses.