May 31, 2020

Census Day in Heard County (April 1)

(Franklin, GA) — Census Day is still Wednesday, April 1, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced the U.S. Census Bureau to extend the deadlines for response.

The bureau sent out invitations to respond to all of the nation’s households earlier this month.

Residents originally had until July 31 to respond to the surveys online, or by phone or mail, but that self-response timeline has now been extended to Aug. 14.

The schedule for all census fieldwork, including a follow-up door-to-door collection of data, has also been extended.

“The Census Bureau is taking this step to protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions,” Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in a recent statement on the bureau’s website.

This once every decade headcount is conducted during all years ending in zero. The original purpose of the census, as required by the U.S. Constitution, is to determine how states are apportioned seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

For the 2020 census, the Census Bureau is providing three ways to respond — register online, by telephone, or by returning a paper questionnaire by mail.

Under the revised fieldwork schedule, census takers around the nation will, in late May, begin visiting households that have not yet responded to the census to help complete the count.

Field operations are subject to change as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, Dillingham added in his announcement.

Getting an accurate count of the population of cities and counties will help the nation determine how congressional districts should be drawn and how the approximately $1.5 trillion in federal funding available each year should be distributed to the states and their local governments.

The federal government relies on census data to determine how the funds are distributed.

Georgia received $14.1 million in federal funding in 2018, which was allocated for a variety of federal programs and services, some of which otherwise would have to be shouldered by local taxpayers.

Key programs funded by census data include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicare Part B, highway planning and construction, the Pell Grant program and more.

Over half (51.7%) of the federal funds for Georgia in 2015 went toward public health. The next highest percentage, 28.7%, went to families and children.

For every person in Heard County who does not respond to the census, local governments miss out on estimates in federal funding. That number multiplies each year for 10 years because the allocations are based on the latest census data.

Heard County’s population has remained remarkably consistent through the last two decades with 11,024 residents counted during the 2000 Census and 11,837 residents calculated in 2010. Estimates in July of 2019 indicated the local county population at 11,923.

Top 10 Facts the Public Needs to Know about the 2020 Census 

  1. The 2020 Census does not include a citizenship question. While the draft version of the 2020 Census included a question on citizenship, it was later removed after being temporarily blocked by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

  2. The privacy of an individual’s census data is well protected by federal law. It cannot be shared with any other federal, state, or local agency. In fact, anyone who unlawfully discloses a person’s census data is subject to a $250,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. 

  3. The Census Bureau cannot release personally identifiable information about an individual’s census survey until 72 years after it was collected. Therefore, if you participate in the 2020 Census your individual census records will not be made available until the year 2092. 

  4. Both U.S. citizens and non-citizens should be counted as part of the 2020 Census. The purpose of the census is to count everyone living in the United States regardless of their legal status. Everyone should participate. 

  5. The 2020 Census can be taken online, by mail, or over the phone. Any of these options can be used regardless of where you live or how you are contacted about taking the census. 

  6. There are no questions on the 2020 Census that asks for your social security number, driver’s license number, bank account information, credit card number, insurance number, or similar information. 

  7. The Census Bureau will contact you five times by mail before they send someone to your home to take the census. If you take the census by phone, mail, or online no one will come to your home to ask you take the census. 

  8. All Census takers will carry an ID badge which should include their photograph, an expiration date, and the U.S. Department of Commerce watermark. They will not ask for your identification. Confirmation about their identity can be further verified through the Census Bureau at 800-923-8282. 

  9. There is language assistance available for limited and non-English speakers to take the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau has provided translated web pages and guides in 59 non-English languages, including American Sign Language, and braille. 

  10. It is safe to take the 2020 Census online. There are numerous safeguards that have been implemented by the Census Bureau to protect your information. 

Commonly Asked Questions about the 2020 Census 

What is the census? The U.S. Constitution requires there to be a count of everyone living in the United States (i.e. a census) every 10 years. 

How is census data used? Census data is used to distribute federal funding to states and local governments. It is also used to determine congressional representation, redistricting for federal, state, and local districts, community planning, program and grant eligibility, local tax distributions, and business relocation and expansion decisions, among other uses. 

How does census data benefit my community? Census data benefits communities in various ways. According to a study published by GW Institute of Public Policy, one person in Georgia is estimated to be worth $2300 in federal funding per year. Over 55 federal programs use census data to fund services that can directly impact your community such as school lunches, Medicaid, rural assistance, food banks, SNAP, WIC, and housing assistance. It can also be used for local planning purposes such as determining the number of schools, recreation facilities, or senior housing needed. 

How will I be notified by the Census Bureau? Invitations will be sent by mail between March 12-20. Depending on location, you may receive a letter to take the census online or receive the hard copy census questionnaire. Areas determined to have high 65 and older populations or low internet connectivity and access will receive hard copy census questionnaires. A breakdown by county of how notification will be provided, including areas where bilingual notification will be available, is located at https://www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us/ 

How is the homeless population counted? The homeless will be counted by the Census Bureau from March 30, 2020-April 1, 2020. 

How are college students counted? College students who live on campus will be counted by their college. Students living off campus will need to complete their own census forms. Parents of college students should not count them on their census forms unless they live at home. 

How are inmates counted? Inmates are counted by the prison where they are serving time and not where they lived before being incarcerated. 

How are members of the military counted? Members of the military will be counted by the military base from where they are deployed instead of where they were living prior as they have been counted in previous censuses.

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