April is almost here. It is a month for pouring rain, playing pranks, painting eggs, and paying taxes. But since this is a year ending in zero that means it’s also time for one more thing, filling out your Census.
It costs no money and takes a trifling amount of time, but it helps to determine how well represented your community is in government, how over $400 billion in federal funding gets divided, and how big of a market your community represents to businesses and organizations looking to expand.
Social Compact has assisted cities with programs to correct and challenge undercounts of their populations by conventional metrics. Last year alone Social Compact assisted twelve cities in challenging their Census population estimates and found almost 224,000 people who had been left uncounted. That’s at least $2 million in misallocated federal funding due simply to bad data.
Over the years we have found that one of the hardest things about community based economic development is simply a lack of good, reliable information. Because of a lack of response to the Census and other surveys, low-income neighborhoods in America seem smaller, poorer, and less dynamic than they really are and we will have to live with the consequences for a decade. Consequentially these neighborhoods will not get the services they need as banks will not realize there are people in need of financial services and grocers and shops will not know how many customers they are missing.
Making sure you and your neighbors have all submitted their Census form is a small, but incredibly important step. If the Census has not delivered a form to your mailbox, you can call 1-866-872-6868 FREE to request one. You can also visit the Census’ website to request a form in a variety of languages from Albanian to Yiddish. Finally, any additional questions can be cleared up with a visit to any local Questionnaire Participation Center in your neighborhood.