Rockford-area leaders are trying to get the word out about why an accurate count is so important in the 2020 census.
Ivy Hood is the program manager for the 2020 Regional Census Initiative. She said the decennial census needs to be filled out by every single resident. "This includes anybody experiencing homelessness, students, people who live in housing authorities, people who live here half the year. Everyone needs to be counted."
The information people provide to the census is confidential and there are protections in place that will prevent anyone's information from being revealed in a way that makes them identifiable to immigration officials, members of law enforcement, and landlords.
Hood also said, "There is absolutely no citizenship question."
Hood explained that for every person not counted, the State will not receive $1,535. She added, "That's approximately $15,000 over ten years."
The U.S. census determines how billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated among local governments over the course of ten years. That includes Pell grants, SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and construction funding.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara elaborated: "$675 million is at stake over the next 10 years."
Rockford's mayor also spoke about the ease of filling out the census, which is 9 questions long. He said, "It's super easy to fill out. It takes very little time and it makes a dramatic impact on where you live."
Mike Chamberlain is the board chairman of Region 1 Planning Council and the mayor of Belvidere. He said, "We have been working in Belvidere through our churches, through the health department, through our community groups to ensure people that it is safe to provide your information."
The census also helps determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives as well as political representation at all levels of government.
Chamberlain said, "Due to population loss in Illinois, we expect to lose one federal representative. We need to gain more representatives, not lose representatives."
Chamberlain also said, "There are video and printed guides available in 59 languages as well as ASL and braille." He said that people can fill out the census "over the phone in 13 languages and by mail." He added, "There's not really a good excuse not to take the census."
April 1st is the official start of the census. Households will begin receiving information on how to respond online, by mail, or on the phone in mid-March. For information about job opportunites with the U.S. Census Bureau, visit the 2020 census website.