Effort uses a racial equity lens to ensure the ‘hardest to count’ populations are accounted for in 2020
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley announced an effort to boost Milwaukee County residents’ participation in the 2020 Census. Beginning July 1, Milwaukee County is teaming up with its existing call center staff at the Milwaukee County Transit System, Department of Health and Human Services and Child Support Services to ensure Milwaukee County is fully counted in the census. Call center staff will remind residents they communicate with to participate in the nationwide count, and help them take the census over the phone in English and Spanish.
This announcement is part of Milwaukee County’s efforts to achieve racial equity and be the healthiest county in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County is committed to working toward equity and shifting its own institutional power to demonstrate leadership in dismantling white supremacy and racist policies and practices.
“We want a Milwaukee County that understands that our diversity is our strength. The U.S. Census is our way to demonstrate to the federal government that we have the power to make change – right here in our own community. We can make things better for future generations. At Milwaukee County, we serve everyone, and we need to ensure that everyone is counted in the Census, especially people of color, non-native English speakers and individuals with different abilities,” Crowley said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, children under the age of five, immigrant and refugee communities, homeless people, Native Americans, Latinx, Hmong, African Americans, people with disabilities, rural residents without broadband access, renters and people with non-traditional housing and LGBTQ populations are more difficult to count.
“The population of a state determines how many seats it receives in the U.S. House of Representatives and how many federal dollars it receives. More than $675 billion of federal funding is split among the states each year,” Crowley said. “Money that funds education, Medicare, transportation and more.”
Additionally, the census provides the Legislature with fundamental data as it reshapes congressional and legislative districts every 10 years.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, both field data collection and self-response for the census has been extended to Oct. 31, 2020. As of July 1, Milwaukee County’s response rate was 64.3%. The national average is 61.8% and Wisconsin’s current rate is 68.7%. In 2010, Wisconsin ranked number one in the country with its response rate to the census.
“We are inspired by Milwaukee County’s commitment to ensuring a complete count, by providing a platform to engage, educate and encourage the community to self-respond to the 2020 Census in this virtual environment,” said Marilyn Sanders, regional director of the Census Bureau’s Chicago region. “For the first time, everyone has three options to complete the 2020 Census. You can respond online at 2020census.gov or by mail. You can also respond by phone by calling 844-330-2020, where you can talk to someone in English or 12 additional languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Polish and Vietnamese. We want to remind everyone to be counted and count everyone in your household. The 2020 census is safe, easy and important.”
Milwaukee County has Wisconsin’s largest concentration of census tracts where few people responded to census mailings in 2010. Some of those tracts are among the hardest to count in the country according to an interactive map developed by the CUNY Mapping Service at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.
The website to complete the census online is 2020cenus.gov.