Don’t count yourself out: complete your census forms ASAP

In March, the U.S. Census Bureau extended the deadline to count everyone in the country from the end of July to mid-August because of the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.

The pandemic also is delaying usual on-the-ground efforts that include counting homeless populations, dropping off forms in rural areas with no fixed addresses, and door-to-door efforts to get people to respond by phone, mail, or online.

But just because we’ve been given more time doesn’t mean we should delay. Now, more than ever, it’s important for the federal government to get an accurate count of Cincinnati’s population, otherwise, the city could lose much-needed funding.

“Our population count determines the amount of federal resources we receive for important safety net services and local economic development. We are seeing that formula play out right now with the stimulus package surrounding COVID-19 crisis,” says Denise Driehaus, president of Hamilton County’s Board of County Commissioners.

The 2020 census also helps determine how many congressional seats each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal dollars.

This is the first time people are being encouraged to fill out the once-a-decade census online, although citizens are encouraged to do whatever method is easiest.

However, during a press conference last week, Mayor John Cranley expressed concern that Cincinnati’s response rate lags behind the rest of Ohio, and warned that an undercount could thwart the city’s post-pandemic comeback. And as we’re poised to show a population growth for the first time in seven decades, the comeback could happen faster if everyone completes the census.

Still not sure why it’s so important? Census.gov lists Five BIG Reasons Why You Should Fill Out Your Census Form, including helping your community thrive; getting help in times of need; making the government work for you; reducing risks for American businesses; and to help yourself and your family.

Each day, as we’re seeing how COVID-19 affects the city as a whole, it’s more important than ever.

“As we recover from the finical impacts of this pandemic,” says Driehaus, “we need every person counted so we can collect our fair share.”

For more information about completing the 2020 census, visit hamiltoncountyohio.gov.

Read more articles by Jessica Esemplare.

Jessica Esemplare is the managing editor of Soapbox Cincinnati and a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Shortly after completing her degree in magazine journalism, she began covering local and regional topics at The Cincinnati Herald and, later, as an editor at Ohio Magazine. Her writing has also been featured in U.S. News and World Report.
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