From the Director – March 2020

The census is coming, the census is coming!

Did you know that every ten years, the US Constitution requires that we count everyone who resides in the United States? It’s called the decennial census, and it is important to all of us.

Why is it important?  First, it determines how much money the state gets from the federal government to help meet community needs. In 2016, Oregon received over $13 billion in federal resources. These dollars help our communities function, and how much we receive is based on how many people live in Oregon, according to the last census count. So, the work that we do in 2020 will determine how many federal dollars we receive for things like housing assistance, food assistance, schools, nutrition, roads, and more for the next ten years.

In addition to the money that Oregon receives for basic community needs, the census also determines how many seats we have in the US House of Representatives! There are 435 members of the US House of Representatives, and they are divided up based on how many people live in each state. Oregon currently has five members, but we are so close to getting a sixth seat in the US House of Representatives. That means we’d have more of a voice in our federal laws.

The census also helps us know what’s happening in our communities. All of the data that we look at to determine housing needs, income levels, our state house and senate districts, is all based on census data. The more we know about our communities, the better a job we can do to help focus resources where they will make a difference. So, it’s up to each of us to participate and help us tell the real story of who we are!

So, what can you do?

  1. Take the We Count Oregon pledge to count. Text “Oregon” to 33339, and commit to being counted in the 2020 Census.
  2. A census mailer will be arriving at your house soon. The 2020 census is the first census to be conducted online, so the mailing will invite you to participate online. Fill out your household’s census form, and make sure you count everyone living in your house! Don’t forget the kids under 5!
  3. Talk to organizations that you are a part of – a member or a staff person — about the census. It is so important that everyone be counted this year. Your organization can receive a presentation, or participate in a training from We Count Oregon.
  4. Make sure the people your organization serves are counted by the 2020 Census. As housing providers, service providers, and financial capability providers, we have a trusted relationship with the people our organization serves, and we can help them complete the census by sharing information, offering access to computers, and encouraging them to fill out the census. Email us for details on how your organization can participate.
  5. Check out the Oregon Complete Count website.  This page includes a huge amount of information, tools, and resources you can use to help educate yourself, your organization, and your partners.

The census officially begins on Wednesday, April 1st. Pledge to count today!