When it comes to the 2020 Census, if you don’t remember anything else, remember these three words: dollars, democracy, data, and don’t forget dollars. “To me, these three words sum up the main reasons to take the Census and make sure all your neighbors do too,” said Sonya Hunte, co-chair of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Complete Counts Commission (CCC) and Senior Director of the Anchorage School District’s Office of Equity and Compliance.
In Anchorage, the CCC is made up of leaders who represent a variety of sectors in our community, from business, to education, to nonprofits, to various minority and ethnic groups. The mission of the CCC is clear – to focus on increasing the count for hard to count populations (like Hmong, children, or people experiencing homelessness) and hard to count neighborhoods (like Mountain View, Fairview, or Airport Heights). The Census helps determine how much federal money gets allocated to our state. Alaska currently receives $3.2B annually for programs including public education, roads, healthcare, and public safety, among dozens of other programs.
The Census also determines the amount of political representation in Alaska. Every ten years, after Census results are analyzed, the State of Alaska and local jurisdictions redraw legislative boundaries, potentially changing your political representation at the local or state level. Lastly, the Census is also used to determine demographic data. This data represents who we are as a community. Analysis of the 2010 Census led to several national articles which described Anchorage as having the most diverse Census tract in the nation and several of the most diverse high schools and elementary schools in the nation. An accurate count can help determine if this trend is still true.
Considering the benefits, why wouldn’t everyone take the Census? Some communities simply do not trust the federal government to keep their information private, says Gabriel Layman, co-chair of the CCC and chair of the Alaska Census Working Group, which is the driver behind Alaska Counts, a statewide education campaign focused on increasing the count throughout Alaska, as well as Chief Operating Officer of Cook Inlet Housing Authority. “The 2020 Census will not ask for any information about citizenship status. Any information you provide remains confidential by law. It cannot be disclosed to any person or organization for any non-statistical purpose, such as law or immigration enforcement,” said Layman. The count will officially begin in March for Anchorage and will be conducted online for the first time ever. The Anchorage Public Library system will be ready to assist people in taking the 2020 Census. Starting in April, Census workers will begin going door to door to complete nonresponse follow up for people who don’t take the Census online.
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