Census: Get Jobs, Get Counted!
By Dianne Anderson
Like the old saying goes, you can run but you can’t hide – from the Census, that is.
And why should you after all?
Lots of money is at stake, and filling out the form is nothing compared to information that residents freely share with complete strangers on any given day.
Esmeralda Vazquez, Census Liaison and Field Representative for Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, is reminding the community that filling out the form is safe, and important.
“Every time I talk to someone who is scared, I tell them you give more information to the pizza delivery guy when you order a pizza. They know where you live, they know your phone number and credit card information,” she said.
For the first time ever in history, the Census will now be online. Everyone is encouraged this week to file when they get their special code via snail mail.
If they don’t know how or do not have access to a laptop or smartphone, they can check out their local libraries to do their civic duty.
The census questionnaire is simple, and relatively non-invasive. It asks the ethnicity of the person filling out the form, how many people live at the residence, and a handful of other basic questions.
But Vazquez said some people might be afraid because they don’t want the landlord to know how many people are living at the rental.
“I tell them, you’re protected under Title 13. This information is more secure than any other information,” she said.
Census workers must also take an oath of secrecy. If anyone gives out information about a resident, they face a $250,000 fine or five years in jail, or both.
African Americans, particularly men ages 18-49, and Latino residents are critical for a good count to pull down more money and resources for the community. Even pregnant moms need to get the unborn babies counted. The zero to five population will bring millions of dollars to the people that need it most.
“Parents think I don’t have to count my children, but a lot of resources we get are for the children. We get schools and public assistance, and transportation,” she said.
As for job opportunities, the Census is now hiring, which will continue in the coming months for the remote centers, the QAC’s and jobs for enumerators. They have positions for people that can put on events and host job fairs.
“There are many jobs right now for people in our community to tap into it, and get the word out about the Census,” she said.
The Office of Assemblymember Reyes is working with several local agencies, including San Bernardino County, the city unified school district, and city councils within the district to ensure they have Census resources needed for community outreach.
She said California has dedicated $180 million in state funds for Census communication programs, coordinated through a statewide and local complete count committees, and community-based organizations, including the IE Community Foundation.
Nonprofits are also working census outreach at senior centers, in front of grocery stores, along with the healthcare providers like IEHP, Molina and Borrego Health.
“We’re able to target them there so they feel more comfortable. They’re the ones that have relationships with the community so it’s not just some random person,” she said.
Remote access centers will answer questions and help fill out forms. In the Inland Empire, all legislative offices are open to assist the community.
Getting the right count on the homeless is extremely important, she added.
Reyes’ office recently met with the census bureau regional director, and preparing to take a night time headcount in April or May. They will be calling for community organizations and volunteers to help, and go out into the sleeping areas where the homeless frequent, at parks and homeless shelters.
She said so many offices and representation in the government also lose money when people aren’t counted.
“For every person that isn’t counted, we’ll be losing an average $1,000 per person per year,” Vazquez said.
The funding only comes once every ten years based on the count, and $10,000 per person adds up to a lot of potential services in the coming decade. Without a complete count, the state, cities and districts will suffer at the community level.
“When we talk about schools, public assistance, transportation, after school programs, all of these services we benefit from, the parks and recs — we won’t be getting them if people don’t get counted,” she said.
For more information, see https://a47.asmdc.org/census-2020-pledge-be-counted
To apply for a Census job, go to www.census.gov/jobs