Mayor's Corner: Fill Out Your Census Form
The United States Constitution mandates that our federal government count every person living in the United States every tenth year. The original purpose was to apportion members of the U.S. House of Representatives according to the population of each state, but now the stakes are even greater as the federal government uses the Census to apportion funding to cities like Lakewood. The more people we count in Lakewood, the more funding we will receive and influence we will have in Columbus and Washington, DC.
In an ordinary Census, August, September, and October are the times when the door-knockers we associate with the Census begin to hit the streets. Their purpose is to ensure that all people, especially those in traditionally hard-to-count areas are, in fact, counted. The federal government announced an acceleration of the deadline for the final Census count from October 31st to September 30th. This was an unexpected and unwelcome change and is problematic for Lakewood and other communities like ours.
A complete count of everyone in Lakewood is especially important this year. Cities with a population over 50,000 receive direct federal dollars and Lakewood is slightly over 50,000 residents. Without an accurate census count, Lakewood would potentially lose access to these funds which would have long-lasting effects on our community. Federal funding that we rely on for schools, clinics, roads, and more would be reduced. The stakes are great and we need everyone to be counted.
We have aggressively worked to reach all corners of Lakewood to inform our community of the importance of the Census. We have established a Complete Count Committee that includes over 80 Lakewood Leaders in the schools, businesses, churches, non-profits, daycare centers, senior centers, residents, and more. Before COVID-19 impacted our outreach efforts, we were able to meet in person twice and have since shifted to reach people through regular email updates and through social media. Additionally, we have regularly communicated through the water bills, through Lakewood Life newsletter and block club newsletters, a presentation at our landlord training seminar, and have put up banners at the City Center and outside Madison Park. We have included Census flyers in all of our home-delivered meals to seniors and in our produce distributions. Lakewood’s Help to Others (H2O) virtual camp took a special interest in the Census this year. The virtual campers sent over 300 personalized postcards to homes in our lower-response census tracts. I am proud of the work we have done as a community but we aren’t done yet.
We continue to monitor our self-response rate and have seen some great improvements. In the midst of a pandemic, we have surpassed our 2010 count, but by no means have we achieved a complete count. These last few days will be crucial.
What can you do? Please, fill out your Census and remind your neighbors! Call 844-330-2020 to fill out the Census by phone or visit www.OneLakewood.com/census-2020.
Let’s be part of the solution, Lakewood.