Census outreach organizers that first faced the challenge of encouraging responses during the pandemic are now dealing with the problem of less time to educate communities.
Sky Allen, a local census coordinator for Inland Empowerment, says organizers are feeling motivated despite the surprise of the new deadline of September 30.
“We are so close," said Allen. "We only have so much time left so for us so it’s just push, push, push.”
The region is averaging a 62 percent response rate, and she says while that’s a few percentage points behind the 2010 responses, it’s the same pace seen across the nation.
“Given that in 2010 we were in one of the most undercounted counties, I think it is a great thing and it speaks to all of the work people are doing,” said Allen.
The announcement that the census bureau would be cutting their operations short by a month was an unexpected blow to organizations. Overcoming the challenge of making outreach safe during the pandemic has been difficult but doable. Now they are feeling the pressure to adapt resources once again to have one big final push before the deadline.
Over the next month they will be using phone calls, texts, car caravans, social media and socially distanced in-person pop-up sites to get the word out. She says these efforts are especially important in the Coachella Valley, High Desert and the city of San Bernardino—all areas that have lagging response rates. Allen hopes what might be at stake with an undercount is understood.
“The things we need in our community, good schools, good hospitals, roads, all of that is paid for with census derived funding," said Allen. "And if we don’t fill out the census, we are just giving people reasons to not give us the money we deserve.”
She says taking the census is not just about counting bodies. It’s about funding communities.
Click here to take the census.