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Brittney Sherman

The United States Constitution requires that each decade we take a count — or a census — of America’s population. The April 1, 2020 Census will arrive sooner than you think and will have drastic consequences on the funding our city receives during the next 10 years.

Why is it so important to achieve a “complete count?” Morgan Hill loses about $20,000 of federal funding for every person resident not counted within our community.

The overall “count” affects a state’s representation in government and determines the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to states, counties, and communities in support of resources such as schools, hospitals and fire departments.

The goal of a “complete count” is hard met when considering these groups: homeless, veterans, seniors, children, disabled persons, renters, immigrants and migrant workers.

To combat these hurdles the census team will unveil aggressive marketing campaigns, verify all updated local address lists, establish community partnership programs and employ thousands of enumerators (encompassing 59 languages) to personally visit addresses of non-responders. New this year, residents will have the opportunity to submit their information electronically in 12 languages, over the phone or by mail.

Scared your information will be abused? Never fear, Title 13 and Title 44 protect the information you submit on your census form, deeming it unlawful to be shared as public knowledge and/or used for anything other than statistical data. All census employees swear a lifetime oath of confidentiality resulting in severe penalties including five years in prison if broken.

Focusing everyone’s attention around the census will be particularly hard this time around as it will be sharing the limelight with the March Primary Elections.  We implore you to do your part in educating your employees, friends, family and neighbors on the importance of a “complete count.”

Morgan Hill’s federal funding amount depends upon our ability to educate and encourage our residents to answer 10 questions on April 1, 2020.

Brittney Sherman is the Member and Member and Community Engagement Director for the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce. Information for this column courtesy of Robert “Bob” Davila, Partnership Specialist 2020 Census Program, Northern California.

Marty Cheek