The U.S. Census Bureau’s task of conducting a complete count of the homeless, the disenfranchised and the hard-to-reach population, which constantly relocates, has become a challenge for the Bureau with its goal of an accurate count during the Census 2020.
That task in Alameda County is receiving some assistance from the County Board of Supervisors, who in 2018, established a Complete Count Committee (CCC) and recently awarded $1.5 million for Census Outreach Grants.
“Due to the significant reduction in federal resources for the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct this decennial count of every person living in the United States, the County deemed this local investment imperative in order to attain a complete and accurate count,” said Casey Farmer, executive director of the CCC.
“The Alameda CCC will invest in ‘trusted messengers’ of hard-to-count communities to convey the importance of completing the Census with grants to 115 agencies. These agencies include community-based organizations, health clinics, educational institutions, and houses of worship.”
The CCC is a regional, cross-sector stakeholder working to maximize participation in Census 2020. It will communicate to the public the importance of the Census and provide community partners with information, data, training, materials, and technical assistance for their direct outreach.
“As required by the Constitution, the Census’ objective is to count every single person in the country,” Farmer said. “The Census Bureau will conduct major enumerations operations at shelters and soup kitchens as well as encampments. Alameda County will provide the Bureau with a list of homeless advocates to support the outreach encampment, using messengers from these encampments to assist in the count.”
The CCC convened an Unhoused Subcommittee of key stakeholders including the East Oakland Collective, EveryOne Home, and Saint Mary’s Center, who are collectively advocating that the U.S Census Bureau’s outreach be comprehensive and ensure dignity and sensitivity towards this vulnerable population.
“We also have a number of immigrant communities that feel attacked by the Trump administration and we want to galvanize support from those communities through outreach led by nonprofits and churches,” said Farmer. “Our outreach efforts will include multi-lingual educational workshops, Questionnaire Assistance Centers at all public libraries, Census Weeks at schools, colleges, and more.”
Ultimately, the Census data will be used to allocate approximately $800 billion dollar
s in federal funding as well as to determine each State’s representation in Congress. The 2020 Census can be completed online, by phone, and via a paper form.