A census meeting on Tuesday was a Census Solutions Workshop, Philadelphia Regional Census Center Partnership Specialist Samuel Knight told The Times-Gazette.
During the workshop, the Highland County Complete Count Committee and community members began developing a census event. The focus of the next meeting will be on continuing to develop these events, Knight said.
The next meeting will be held at the Hi-Tech Center, located at 1575 N High St. in Hillsboro, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25. The meeting is open to the public, and Knight encouraged any community member who may have ideas for census events to attend the meeting.
“Some people might think to themselves, ‘How does this have to do with me?’ or ‘What is my stake in this?’” Knight said. “Everything we do at some point in the day traces back to having good data and statistics to be able to make decisions about where money is spent and representation is allotted.”
Data gathered during the 2020 census, Knight said, will affect how the government decides to allocate more than $675 billion in federal funds each year for the next decade. According to Knight, if any community members are missed during the census count, the data won’t accurately represent the area, which could cause Ohio and Highland County governments and organizations to be denied funding.
“If we miss people in the census, it skews our per capita income up. That same amount of income is getting divided among less people,” Knight said. “I was just speaking with the superintendent of Western Local Schools down in Latham. They’re the eighth or 10th most impoverished school district in Ohio, and he indicated that they’ve tried to apply for certain programs and grants, and they say, ‘Nope, your income doesn’t meet the correct standards.’ This has been indicated in a lot of villages.”
In a previous interview, Highland County census co-coordinator Virginia Purdy said participation in the census is vitally important to the county, adding that “with the stroke of a pen,” Greenfield went from city to village status as a result of the 2010 census.
“This is about the funding for our roads, our medical programs and so much more,” Purdy said. “It affects our lives here, and it even affects how many people we get to represent us in government.”
Knight said, “Our 435 House representatives get divided up based on the census counts. If we miss people in any area in Ohio, we can become underrepresented as a state for the next 10 years.”
Knight stated that personal information gathered for the census is confidential.
“Title 13 in the U.S. Code protects respondents’ personally identifiable information — that’s all the information we collect in the census,” Knight said. “We ask for name, address, number of people living in the household, race and ethnicity, and sex or gender. Those are the only questions we ask. If more than one person is lives in the household, we also need that same information for those other people living in the household. We want people to know that their personal information is protected under law. It’s not shared with other government agencies or private entities.”
Agencies and private entities that will not receive information collected during the census include benefits agencies and landlords.
Census data is protected for 72 years, meaning data from the 2020 census won’t be released until 2092, Knight said.
According to Knight, there will be three ways to participate in the census count: online, by phone or by mail.
Knight said 95 percent of households in the U.S. will receive their census forms in the mail. However, the other 5 percent, including those who have P.O. boxes and those who live on rural routes, will have their census hand-delivered.
National Census Day is April 1, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned people in a news release to be on the alert to scammers posing as census workers.
“This year, census takers will be going door-to-door to retrieve information, and the BBB is anticipating that scammers may be out in full force in an attempt to take advantage of those responding to the census,” the agency said.
Those who would like to complete their census questionnaire via phone must initiate the phone call. Census workers will not call residents.
All census workers will carry a government-issued laptop or cellphone, as well as a bag with the Census Bureau logo on it.
If a census taker comes to your door, the BBB said to ask to see their ID badge, since they are required to carry and present a field badge that includes a photograph of themselves, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.
for 2020 census
Between March 12 and March 20, Highland County residents will receive an invitation to respond online and via phone. The invitation will include a unique URL and code.
Between March 16 and March 24, residents will receive a reminder letter.
Between March 26 and April 3, residents will receive a reminder postcard.
Between April 8 and April 16, residents will receive a reminder letter and paper census questionnaire, which they can fill out and mail in.
Between April 20 and April 27, those who haven’t completed the questionnaire will receive a final reminder postcard before a census worker follows up in person.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.