A campaign to make sure everyone in the City of Austin and Travis County is counted in the 2020 Census was launched on Monday, April 1.
Every ten years the U.S. Census Bureau oversees a survey of the whole country to determine population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Next year, between March and July, individuals will be able to respond online, by phone, or by mail.
The Census information guides the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal funding to programs across the U.S. that are crucial to the well-being of families and communities. If Texas residents are undercounted by even 1% Texas could lose at least $300 million per year.
If people in Austin and Travis County go uncounted then the community could lose significant funding for Medicaid, Medicare, State Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP), Section 8 Housing, Head Start, National School Lunch Program, Special Education Grants and highway planning and construction.
Counting everyone can be logistically challenging. Very young children, immigrants, people who live in rural areas, people of color, people who move residences more frequently, and people who face language barriers, are often harder to count.
This year campaigners are concerned about a potential addition of a citizenship question added to the Census. This decision is pending and awaiting response from the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, the underfunding of the Census Bureau and changing demographics in the State could add up to a significant undercount for Texas.
On Monday, the City of Austin and Travis County joined other local communities across the country as part of a national day of action to promote the importance of the Census to everyone in the community.
"It's important for us all to make sure everyone in our community gets counted," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "The Census determines the number of seats that Austin-Travis County has in the U.S. Congress, and how district lines are drawn. And it determines how $800 billion of federal funding is allocated across the country. Our community has been leaving money on the table and we can't afford to do that. If Austin and Travis County is to get its fair share, it’s imperative that everyone gets counted. Everyone who lives here counts."
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said, "Because the 2020 Census is a year away, the hard work to make certain we have an accurate count must begin today. Whether it is protecting our voting rights during redistricting or the allocation of federal funds to local communities, Census data plays a critical role in all our lives."
Over the next year, the two authorities will join forces alongside the newly formed Austin-Travis County Complete Count Committee to raise awareness about the importance of the Census and get as many people as possible to participate.