2020 Census deadline is quickly approaching
The deadline for the 2020 US Census is quickly approaching – the count officially ends on September 30th. And in the Allegheny Highland of the two Virginias, the percentage of participation in Bath, Highland and Pocahontas counties is still far below where it should be according to Jim Dau, State Director for AARP Virginia. He explains why the census is so important.
“People tend to overlook the role that the census plays and how the federal government invests around 675 billion dollars in tax funds,” he said. “We’re talking investments in everything from local emergency services and first responders, schools and roads and bridges. At the individual level who doesn’t participate in the census, they cost their community up to around $20,000.00 a piece over the next 10 years.
Dau says in Highland County, the response rate for the Census is 47%; in Pocahontas, it’s only 25%. Bath has around a 40% response rate as of September 20th according to The Recorder newspaper. This means that these counties could be shortchanged when it comes to federal and state funding for the next 10 years.
And it’s not just roads and transportation. The funding as determined by the census also affects heating and energy assistance programs, nutrition assistance and schools.
“I tell folks if you want to make sure your community has good health care available for the next 10 years, fill out the census and tell a friend. If you want to make sure your community has good transportation options and good roads, fill out the census and tell a friend. And very important for AARP members and the people we serve, if you want to make sure your kid or grandkid can go to a school with enough teachers and enough classrooms, make sure their counted on the 2020 census, and please tell a friend.”
Dau says the funding is allocated to federal and state programs, and in some cases, a combination of the two. But if the census numbers don’t reflect the true number of persons in a given area, that area simply won’t get as much of the pot. And that can affect funding for critical facilities such as rural hospitals.
“I haven’t heard the person that says we have too many hospitals and health care providers in my areas,” said Dau. “And this goes into the funding equation – there are more people in this area so we need to prioritize the funds to help the most folks.”
The census numbers determine the amount of funding for children’s health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. And of course, it also impacts funding for senior citizens, says Dau.
“We go around the state and we hear from a lot of folks and the biggest problem that people have with the community in which they live is transportation; how do they get from one place to another, especially as they get older. The census is a huge determinant in how much money can go, not only to paving roads and building bridges, but also making sure there are other transportation options besides driving. Census impacts emergency services and first responders – police, fire department and EMTs. We don’t get a chance to make this one up, it’s every 10 years, won’t get another chance like this until 2030.”
Even if you’ve already filled out the 2020 census, you may still get a visit from an enumerator or census taker. Dau says these visits are usually to clarify information that has been submitted such as a change of street address or for quality control purposes. He says there are questions that a legitimate enumerator will not ask.
“If you talk to anybody who says there from the census and they ask you for things like your social security number, your bank account number, any money to support a census “fee”, those folks are scammers. Census takers won’t ask for money, they won’t ask for that kind of sensitive personal information. The Census bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party – we’ve seen that one too.”
Dau says real census takers will have a valid ID badge with their photograph. The badge should also have a Dept of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If you still question whether they are legit, you can call 1-800-923-8282 to verify that census takers are scheduled to be in your neighborhood.
If you haven’t yet filled out your census, it’s not too late. You can go online at my2020census.gov or you can call 1-844-330-2020 and fill it out over the phone. The deadline to submit your census information is September 30th, 2020.