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Census Caravan Hits The Streets In San Diego County

 August 21, 2020 at 9:52 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The us census count is nearing its final weeks. And there are a number of efforts underway to reach San Diegans, who haven't yet responded today. The United way is sponsoring car caravans through San Diego to raise awareness about the census in low responding communities. This year, the census has faced a number of challenges from the pandemic and the Trump administration, but advocates want to remind people about the important role this once a decade count plays in people's lives. Joining me is Michelle Silverthorne with the count me 20, 20 coalition and the United way of San Diego County. And Michelle, welcome to the program. Thank you so much. So what are these car caravans? Like? What will people see? Speaker 2: 00:46 We've had a lot of different caravans just to raise awareness, let people know the census is still here. We need to take it today, the importance of the census. And so today we have account may 20, 20 census day of action. We have five. This is like world record for us hearing in you. We have five simultaneous caravans that are happening this evening. So from national city Chula Vista, this, the San Marcos and Escondido we will have up to, I think there's even up to 30 cars in some of these caravans that will be decorated. They'll have balloons, they'll have signs that say, count me, um, count our community, our community counts. Um, at a couple of them, we'll have media trucks as well. So they'll have the led trucks sending some census messaging, some psh and just sharing out how important is to take the census. Speaker 1: 01:35 What is the county's response so far? Speaker 2: 01:38 We've already hit the 2010 rates. So we're closing in on 2000 rates, which is 73% in San Diego. So we're getting close to the best census numbers in 20 years, but we, that's not a hundred percent. So we still have a ways to go. Now, Speaker 1: 01:54 DOR census takers have been hampered by the COVID pandemic. What kind of responses have they been getting? Speaker 2: 02:01 It's a good question. And, and just as a reminder, our work is the County 2020 coalition is for outreach and education to ensure our community members are taking the census, but the outreach workers, or excuse me, the enumerators or the census takers began about two weeks ago, going door to door. Um, I've had some, um, some connections to a few of them and they're getting good responses, but they're also noting that there are people that are a little bit hesitant to answer the door. So I've heard that rates are, are doing well. Um, this isn't data that we have on hand, but that numbers are continuing to increase and that data is being received. Speaker 1: 02:35 Now the date to end the census has recently been moved up to September 30th. It had been extended to the end of October because of the COVID pandemic. Why was that day changed? Speaker 2: 02:47 That's a good question. So the date was changed. It actually was originally July 31st due to COVID. They did extend it to October 31st and it has since been rolled back to September 30th. So this has caused a little bit of confusion in the community and curiosity as to why this is happening. It's important to remember that regardless, we need to take the census today and rolling this back could hurt it's thoroughness and even produce inaccurate data. Um, but we'll have less lasting effects for the next decade. So Speaker 1: 03:17 Angeles and several other cities are suing the census Bureau to force it, to keep to that October deadline. How much would that extra time, that extra four weeks or so mean to the count Speaker 2: 03:29 Having the extra time, those extra four weeks we'll allow a couple extra weeks for the enumerators, for their census takers to return to the homes. They right now have up to six visits to visit a home. If they do not get a response, they do go to a proxy. So a neighbor or a, a male person or a landlord to gather that data. So having that extra time would give us an opportunity to ensure that everyone is counted. We are hearing anecdotally that people still are not familiar with the census, that they, they're not sure if it's safe to take the census. So having that extra four weeks would give us extra time to ensure that our community is completely counted along Speaker 1: 04:07 Those lines of people being wary of the census. So one of the threats I mentioned up top, it came from the administration when they wanted to add a citizenship question, that whole idea was thrown out by the Supreme court, but it was feared that the F that threat alone has had a chilling effect. In your opinion, have people been more reluctant to respond because of that? Speaker 2: 04:29 I would say that we are continually saying that there is not a sin, a citizenship question. Um, even though this happened over a year ago, that the citizenship question was never included on this census, um, there's still is concern that, that, that that's not true. Um, we're ensuring that in all of our outreach and education, that we mentioned that there is not a citizenship question, your data is safe, um, that it security take the census, that the data is encrypted in. Essentially the census information that is provided is data. It is provided to the census Bureau as data, and it's tallied as data. And additionally, it is prohibited by law to, um, to share out this data. Speaker 1: 05:10 Now an undercount can have real life consequences. Remind us what the census count determines. Speaker 2: 05:16 Sure. The census count determines up to 1.5 trillion annually in federal funding that is allocated back to the States back to local jurisdictions. This includes things like headstart, um, other child development programs, um, services for seniors, um, snap programs. It really determines a lot, um, roads schools. There's so many things that the, that the census count determines this also impacts jobs and businesses and how people make decisions. Speaker 1: 05:48 When people see these car caravans, or they see other census reminders, what are ways that they can respond? There are many ways respond to the census. Speaker 2: 05:58 The first way, the easiest way is to go to my 2020 and complete it online. It's nine questions. It takes about nine minutes. The other way to complete it is to call. So you can call the census phone number. There's up to 13 languages available. There are also 13 languages available on the online form. If you received a paper form in the mail, you can still return that, make sure it has a postmark of September 30th. And if you do receive a knock on your door, go ahead and answer that door and talk to the new Raider and share the information that they're asking. There's many ways you can tell if it is a numerator, they will have a badge. They will have census information and you can actually scan some of their information to ensure that that is a census enumerator. Okay. I've been speaking with Michelle Silverthorne with account me 2020 coalition. I'm the United way of San Diego County. Thank you very much. Thank you so much, Marie.

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With the census deadline approaching, United Way's car caravan aims to increase census participation in hard to count communities.
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