April 01, 2019

pov: A Complete Count Means Complete Funding!

Let’s talk about Census 2020. 

Our U.S. Constitution mandates that every ten years all residents residing in our country shall be counted. This is known as the Census. April 2020 is the next date for the Census. 

Having a complete count (meaning ALL people living here are counted) matters to everyone because each person living in the United States at the time of the 2020 Census is assigned a monetary value. Each person in the State of Utah is valued at $1,086. 

For each person living in Utah our state gets $1,086 in federal funding for a ten-year period.  

If you have ever driven a highway, needed housing assistance, tapped into government health insurance (for your aging parents, yourself, or your children), utilized nutritional assistance, sent your kiddo(s) to school where they received a meal, or participated in any early head start program (among many other things not mentioned) you have benefited from money designated from the federal government as a result of a previous Census.  

Here are the programs that the federal government pays Utah based on Census numbers: 

  • Highway planning and construction  
  • Medicaid  
  • SNAP  
  • Medicare Part B 
  • Special education grants 
  • National School Lunch Program 
  • Title 1 Grants 
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers  
  • Head Start and Early Head Start 
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Program 
  • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, 
  • Child Care and Development Fund 
  • Health Center Programs 
  • Foster care 
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments 
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance 

Regardless of citizenship in this country the federal government is mandated by our U.S. Constitution to know how many people LIVE in our communities so they can properly plan for growth.  

We are talking about $3,253,452,654 ($3.2 billion) of revenue for Utah.  

There are two major challenges with the 2020 Census that may affect participation.  

  • For the first time ever, the 2020 Census will be conducted primarily online. This means that the resources dedicated to paper surveys and the follow up from enumerators (door knockers) is limited.  
  • There is a possibility that for the first time since 1950 there will be a question on the 2020 census asking about citizenship*. This means that our community members who are undocumented may feel that filling out the 2020 Census will only get them deported.  

If people are discouraged from participating in the 2020 Census because they fear deportation or they don’t have access to technology to answer the questions, yet they still live in Utah, then for the next 10 years, funding will be assigned to our state without them being counted. The hard truth is this, Utah will lose $1,086 for every person that does not get counted in the 2020 Census. This reduction in funding from the federal government may mean that the programs outlined above will not get the money needed to adequately run operations. As nonprofit professionals we know all too well, how challenging it is to operate efficiently with diminishing budgets and increased need. 

That is why, a year ahead of the 2020 Census I am bringing this issue to you all. I know that across the country and in many counties across our state preparations for the 2020 Census are in motion. UNA is working with a group of community leaders and Salt Lake County to help with outreach efforts to assure that we have a complete count for the 2020 Census.   

Because to me, the message is clear – when the 2020 Census launches, we all need to do our part to talk to our neighbors about being counted and filling out the Census. I know it's complicated and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and assurances that need to made. I am hopeful that over the next year those answers and assurances will be presented. After-all there is over $3 BILLION in resources on the line for the State of Utah.  

*The citizenship question on the 2020 Census is currently under litigation and is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court later this fall.  

Here’s a lovely video applicable to all about the 2020 Census on the Salt Lake County website.  

For more information about the 2020 Census please visit this webapge.