In preparation for National Census Day on April 1st, the California Alliance has blanketed the state’s most densely populated regions in a campaign to ensure that all Californians are counted. As home to the nation’s most populous state, California has the most at stake in this year’s decennial census. More than $400 billion in federal funding is up for grabs and for the first time in its 160-year history, California could lose a congressional seat. Each undercounted Californian loses the state and their community $1000-$3000 PER YEAR ($10,000-30,000 over the next decade!).
The U.S. Constitution requires that a national census be conducted once every 10 years to count the population. All U.S. residents —both citizens and non-citizens, people with expired visas, students on educational visas, guest workers, undocumented workers—any and everyone residing in the U.S. on April 1st must be counted. Census data is used to allocate funding for important community resources such as hospitals, senior centers, schools and transit systems. Recent polls project that 1 in 5 people are uncertain whether or not they will complete their census forms, citing mostly a lack of interest but also a broader distrust of government. The Alliance will wage a large-scale outreach campaign to build trust and motivate hard-to-count (HTC) communities—which include poor and low-income minorities, immigrants, children, homeless, single-parent households and formerly incarcerated men and women of color—to participate.
To mitigate distrust and fear, Alliance organizations are busy deploying of an army of neighborhood-based grassroots leaders who live in these hard-to-count communities in a door-to-door canvassing and phonebank campaign. The Census Bureau’s mantra: census is “Safe, Easy and Important” will be better received coming from “trusted messengers” who know the neighborhood.
Beginning mid-March through mid-April, 6 Alliance Anchors working in 4 key regions will conduct intensive census outreach to more than 120,000 residents throughout the state. Working Partnerships, will cover the San Jose region. Equality Alliance will target San Diego’s HTC population. Oakland Rising will focus their efforts on the Bay Area’s most vulnerable residents. And in Los Angeles, where the largest number of HTC residents live, AGENDA and Community Coalition will outreach to the South side, while InnerCity Struggle covers the East side.
An exciting component of the Alliance’s census project is outreach in 4 additional HTC regions: Bakersfield, Fresno, Riverside and San Bernardino. These areas are among California’s top 10 most under counted counties. The Alliance is working with a network of community-based organizations and churches in these areas with a special focus on increasing African American participation in the census count in these traditionally marginalized communities.
For more information on how to take part in the 2010 Census please see the following links: