Salt Lake City and County employees and volunteers are making a push to ensure everyone will be counted in the upcoming census. The U.S. Constitution requires that every ten years, all people are counted. The population total is the basis for, among other things, the future distribution of federally-funded programs to states, counties and cities. Utah received $3.253 billion based on the last census count.
“The funding covers everything from health care, housing, education and more,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “The census is our opportunity for Salt Lake City residents to get their fair share of what they pay in federal taxes.”
“I am so proud that our community is taking a proactive role to ensure that all our residents are counted in the 2020 Census. Community address canvassing is the first leg of a marathon,” said Ze Xiao, Salt Lake County Office for New Americans. “Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City are setting an example to the rest of the nation on the importance laying the groundwork for an accurate census count.”
Participants will primarily be looking for people who are living in low-visibility or unconventional housing that might be overlooked as primary residences. The dwellings could a converted garage, trailer or a recreational vehicle.
Volunteers will not be entering private property, knocking on doors or speaking to people. The information will be encrypted and given to an independent nonprofit organization and then provided to the Census Bureau without any personal information. Federal law prohibits sharing any private information.
The U.S. Government relies on the census each decade to determine how much funding will go to each state. The money goes to programs like Medicaid, Medicare, highway construction, school lunch, nutrition programs, housing and energy assistance. The census also determines the number of seats for the state in the House of Representatives.
“Fewer people counted means fewer opportunities,” said Nate Salazar, Salt Lake City associate director of Community Empowerment.
Salt Lake City is partnering with Salt Lake County on June 23rd to canvas the remaining Salt Lake City neighborhoods.
The upcoming census will not include individual census-takers but rather by phone calls and online surveys. Over the coming 18 months, community outreach groups will also be available to answer questions and to inform households on completing the census survey. Despite a number of questions included in the survey, only two answers are required for completion: 1) what is the location of your household? and 2) how many people live at this location?
Volunteers must be 16 years or older. The canvassing is expected to be completed within three hours.