SAN ANTONIO – Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a count of all residents in the country. This new decade, Census Day, will be on April 1. For U.S. residents, it is crucial to be counted in because it is the opportunity to secure the funding necessary for their community. In 2010 when the last census was conducted, there was an undercount of residents in San Antonio, which affected the city’s funding.
An accurate census is of great importance because much of the federal tax money is refunded back to Texas, all according to census data. Housing, public transportation and other services used by the community are all supported by the federal tax return.
Experts believe that Texas could run the risk of being underrepresented in congress if communities are not counted in their entirety. According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an undercount of Texas population by even 1% could result in a cut in city services and could stifle our economy. Meaning that even the slightest undercount could cause the city of San Antonio a $300 million loss in the federal tax return for the next ten years.
The city of San Antonio began a new initiative to engage in community outreach to avoid another undercount. Stakeholder meetings were held in summer 2018 to start developing strategies to reach all residents. One approach to help boost awareness was to establish a Complete Count Committee, and they were tasked with obtaining an accurate and complete population count of the city and Bexar County.
The Committee has created a website as one of their outreach strategies. The website, Count Me In 2020, is now live and residents can find information about the local impact of the census and other resources.
According to the Count Me In website, this is a break down of the federally funded infrastructure:
- Hospital & Healthcare: 591,494 residents utilize federal funded healthcare programs like Chip, Medicare, and WIC.
- Public Safety: 15,522 law enforcement, fire and public safety workers
- Road and Transportation: $6 million in federal funding to improve transit system and expanding access
- Schools and education: 240,339 meals provided to students at public schools in Bexar County
San Antonio is home to many university and college students, this age group (18-34), has been undercounted in the past census according to St. Philip’s College President Adena Williams Loston at the SA Complete Count Committee. Due to students having challenges with their home address being different than their current address, as stated by U.S. Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham.
As students, it is essential to know that residents are counted where they are living that year. Meaning, if you are living on campus in 2020, then you should be counted there. Students should also be aware that their representation in the census affects their FAFSA, Pell Grants, and subsidized loans since they all depend on census data.
Avoid undercount and fill out the questionnaire to provide your basic information. It is not required to supply your social security number or about any financial matters. In mid- March, letters in the mail from the Census Bureau will be sent out to invite you to participate. Also, this year will be the first census that will also be available online.
Participating gives you the opportunity to help your community get its fair share of representation and funding. Visit http://www.sabexarcountmein.org for more information. Let your count matter!