On Census Day, Organizers Ask All Richmond Residents to Participate
*VPM intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story
April 1 is Census Day, a key date in recording the demographic make-up of the United States. The federal government aims to have census forms in every household by this day every ten years.
As of March 31, about 36 percent of Richmond residents had filled out the census, almost half the number of people that responded to the census in 2010. Nearly 43 percent of Virginians have participated.
Beth Lynk is the director of the Census Counts campaign, a nationwide effort to get communities considered “hard-to-reach” to participate. She says this is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for many communities to gain access to resources and funding.
“Filling out the census form helps determine how many books and computers our kids’ school can afford, whether seniors in our communities can afford heating in the winter, if there's bus routes where we need them,” Lynk said.
According to a local group focused on encouraging census participaion, the RVA Counts 2020 Complete Count Committee, non-white and non-English-speaking groups are responding at low rates in Richmond’s South Side, as well as in parts of the North Side and East End.
Despite efforts from the Trump Administration, a question about citizenship was not added to the census. Responses are confidential, so they cannot be reported to police or immigration authorities. Lynk says everyone needs to be counted, regardless of immigration or residency status.
“Even if they can't vote, the census is a way to participate in our democracy, and ensure that you're not erased,” she said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline to fill out the census has been extended to August 14. You can participate online, over the phone or by mail.