Leaders hope to make upcoming census as accurate as possible

On March 15 community leaders and elected officials discussed the importance of the 2020 census with the media in hopes of reaching more community members.

Eddie Valero, District 4 Tulare County Supervisor, Dr. Edward Flores, a professor at UC Merced, and Greg Gomez, Mayor of Farmersville, were some of the key speakers who provided information as to how Californians can help get a more accurate count, stressing the importance of what getting an accurate count means for California its communities. .

Flores’ research on preparing for the 2020 census indicated that a major problem was with undercounts, traditionally high in Tulare County due to the many subfamilies here. Flores said,

“California has been historically at a risk for undercount, in 1990 the estimated undercount in California was 2.7%. The fourth highest rate in the nation.”

Children were actually the largest undercounted group at a rate of 4.7% for children ages 0-4 years old.

Numbers gathered from the census are important because the figures put California communities at risk when there is a significant undercount. These numbers are heavily relied upon for determining congressional seating, electoral votes, and billions of dollars in federal funding. This federal funding in turn affects communities.

Members of the California Complete Count Office joined the discussion to let community members know what the state is doing to reduce the percentage of those who are undercounted in the 2020 census. According to California Complete Count Office, $154 million dollars will be going toward outreach for those hardest-to-count Californians. Emilio Baca from California Complete Count Office has been appointed to our region, region 6, to help organize how each part will invest in getting the most hardest-to-count Californians.

Some of his main goals, Baca said, are ” … working with each county on ensuring that a couple things happen like what is your plan? How are we really addressing problems of language specifically in this region? And are we working with our community organizers as well?”

Another obstacle to an accurate count is that a there is a population of immigrants here who are afraid of having to answer questions about their citizenship status.

However, Cindy Quezada, who partnered with the Sierra Health Foundation, conducted 600 surveys in 8 counties, 31 communities, and 104 venues. According to the research, 84% of Latinos were willing to answer the census without the citizenship question. The inclusion of the citizenship question dropped that percentage to 46%. Regardless of citizenship status, those numbers still affect federal funding.

Also skewing results is that in previous census experiences, if a household refused to respond, census takers would go next door to ask the neighbor what the recalcitrant household size was.

These methods, used for decades, are clearly insufficient. However, programs like Community Services Employment Training, League of United Latin American Citizens, Proteus, and other community organizations all stated that they are planning to gather together to insure that they do the most outreach to all hard-to-reach Californians in an effort to decrease the percentage of undercounted.

“These under incorporated areas are often hidden in the silos. They are ripe for resources, and hungry for opportunity. That is why we in Tulare County are doing our very best to spotlight the challenges and potential that necessitates handwork and dedication to seeing a fully represented Central Valley,” Valero said.

The building of a coalition to help the Central Valley is necessary in order to ensure true change in this 2020 census.

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