I bet you really wanted another thing on your to-do list, right? Since the state of Texas is not spending money on or making plans for the 2020 census, it’s up to us to make sure our cities, towns and unincorporated areas are counted.
Here is the bad news:
The NPR story points out:
- Many of the country’s fastest-growing cities are in Texas.
- We also have a “higher percentage of what are considered hard-to-count populations such as low-income populations, immigrant families and young children.”
NPR’s story forgets that many of our fastest-growing counties are at least partially rural and face those challenges plus:
- Access: For example, on our farm, a census-taker would have to get through two electric gates and past as many as five dogs to talk to us.
- Many rural households have no mailboxes or mail delivery to their homes.
- How do we count people living in granny cottages/tiny houses, mobile homes for agricultural workers, caretaker quarters, barn homes, and all the other ways people live on rural properties?
One of our clients, the City of Tom Bean, has taken the initiative to spread the word in meetings, on their Facebook page, and on their official website. Tom Bean is using the collateral provided by the U.S. Census Bureau to encourage residents to participate in the census. The information is free, but you may need to ask for permission to use certain collateral. Don’t hesitate to ask — when I did, a public information officer responded to me right away.
Our fastest-growing areas depend on state and federal grant money for roads, schools, aid to needy families and seniors, and economic development. Most growing communities are hungry for new businesses. Site-selectors use census data to decide where to locate. Growing communities should be entitled to more representation in the state legislature and in Congress. So, imagine how devastating an undercount could be for basic quality of life issues, especially for smaller communities.
The consequences of an undercount will be extensive and long-lasting. Without leadership from the state, it is up to communities to take charge and work together. The U.S. Census Bureau encourages nonprofits, schools, faith communities, and even businesses to participate in the effort. Their website provides resources addressing all these groups — check them out.
Since the census is right around the corner, your agency might consider hiring short-term help. As an extension of your staff, we can help you with your Census 2020 communications efforts. Please feel free to reach out to us — we want everyone to be counted.