Local, state officials preparing for 2020 Census

Published 8:02 pm Monday, July 1, 2019

As the 2020 Census draws nearer, state and local officials are making preparations to ensure residents are as involved as possible.

Mayor Jason Reeves said local efforts will really begin to increase in the fall.

“Obviously the Census is very important for all different types of federal programs,” Reeves said. “It has a huge impact on our representation in Congress as well as many other different things. It’s something we encourage everyone to participate in.”

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Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC), said the Census plays a pivotal role in recruiting business and industry.

“Our Census count is critical to economic development,” Gaylard said. “That’s why it’s so important to get it right. In the past, I don’t necessarily feel the count was accurate. We don’t think the income levels were accurate and we’ve actually had to dispute things like that when a company is looking at locating here. I’d like to encourage everybody to fill out the report and hopefully everybody will get counted. There’s a lot of people working, but it’s hard to find everybody. I personally have never had somebody come to my house or a form sent to me to count me in the Census. I don’t know how we do a better job of that, but it’s very important to our county.”

Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, said the Census is critical for federal representation.

“It is very important that every citizen participate in the Census,” Allen said. “This determines congressional representation. In addition, it’s unfortunate that the U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped their constitutional duty last week to protect the voting rights of U.S. citizens.”

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday preparations by the state attempting to increase involvement in the Census.

“The 2020 Census will play a major role in shaping our state’s future, so it is critical that we do everything we can to educate all of our residents about the importance of participation and motivate them to complete and submit their census forms in March and April 2020,” Ivey said. “Efforts by local and grassroots organizations will be critical to this goal, and I am pleased that the Legislature allocated funds to assist these efforts. I invite your input as we take the first step toward success of this grant program.”

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is seeking public input for a grant program to assist with local outreach efforts. ADECA issued the Request for Information related to $1 million in funding allocated to the agency in the 2020 Education Trust Fund budget for the 2020 Census Grant Program. The RFI is available on the ADECA website. The public comments about the grant program will be accepted in writing until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 2019.

Ivey designated ADECA as the lead state agency for 2020 Census outreach in Alabama. For the past several months, ADECA has led the “Alabama Counts!” 2020 Census Initiative. The one-time grant funding is to be expended by ADECA, in coordination with the State Department of Education, to assist local community outreach efforts designed to encourage Alabama residents to complete the 2020 Census count. All grants will be awarded by December 31 in preparation for the census count in March and April 2020. 

After the public comment period, ADECA will work to design the full process and establish deadlines for this grant program which will provide funding assistance to help with local, grassroots outreach efforts, specifically those in hard-to-count areas and groups. The agency will host a grant application workshop once all the procedures are in place and applications are ready to be accepted.

In 2010, Alabama had a 72 percent response rate to the census with lower rates particularly in west Alabama and in some urban areas. A projected slowed population growth in Alabama has put the state in danger of losing one of our seven congressional seats after the 2020 Census.

The intent of “Alabama Counts” is to increase awareness of the 2020 Census in hard-to-count communities. Hard-to-count communities are residents that are least likely to participate in the census. These communities vary from city to city, county to county and according to U.S. Census Bureau generally include, but not limited to, the following:

• Young children

• Renters of housing units

• Racial and ethnic minorities

• People unemployed

• Low-income persons

• Persons experiencing homelessness

• Persons who distrust the government

• Persons with mental or physical disabilities

• Adults that are not high school graduates