The 2020 Census began on April 1st, but news about the kickoff has been lost in the shuffle thanks to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. One local organization, Westside Housing, is doing what they can to get the word out about the importance of filling out your census questionnaire online. Westwood Housing’s community organizer Angelica Duckworth says—now more than ever—it’s important to be counted:
Tell me a little bit about Westside Housing and what your team does?
“Westside Housing is a non-profit affordable-housing organization that focuses on health, housing, energy, and equity. From assisted living to single-family homes; to asset building to workforce development; to energy efficiency via solar panels on our properties to native gardens, we focus on all the factors that intersect safe, affordable and equitable living spaces. We primarily work in the Westside, Northeast and Midtown.”
The census kicked off April 1st—why is it so important?
“The census is extremely important for a few reasons: it determines the federal funding our city gets towards health, housing, and education for the next ten years. For our under-resourced communities, it can affect funding for Head Start programs like SNAP and other vital resources. If our hard-to-count communities—the Latinx/Hispanic and immigrant communities—don’t get counted, we lack funding for programs to help them receive their basic needs and thrive. It determines congressional and state legislative redistricting, which has a huge impact on the number of seats we hold in the House of Representatives.”
The pandemic stole some of the census thunder. What’s the plan to counteract that?
“I understand the pandemic has taken most, if not all, of the spotlight over the census and, quite frankly, voter registration. The Complete Count Committee of Kansas City’s mission is not to counteract the spread of informative news from scientists about the pandemic, but to share the spotlight. How? We continue pushing collaborative work, constantly checking in on social media and marketing strategies, connecting mass groups for media distribution so that our information is being pressed on all platforms. In other words, scale the connections and the social media push by meeting with partners consistently and intentionally.”
What’s the best way people can help when it comes to filling out their census? Tips?
“(The questionnaire) does not ask for your social security number or citizenship status, so don’t be afraid. The census asks for your name, and the names of anyone else living in your household, and that is only to ensure everyone is counted. So please fill it out correctly, otherwise they will try to call you to ask you to fill it out fully. The questionnaire also asks for a (contact) number—and that is ok because it is only used in case you fill out the census wrong. None of your personal information can be used against you, as it is against the law. You cannot and will not be deported for participating if you are not a citizen, but your voice matters most!”