Too often the priorities of Oregonians living in rural areas are not centered in state legislation. The 2020 Census provides an opportunity for more visibility and a louder voice in congress with the possibility of a 6th congressperson for Oregon.
Jefferson, Douglas, Umatilla, Clackamas, Multnomah, Wasco, Klamath, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lake, and Polk counties are all considered to have residents that fall into the hard-to-count group. The 2020 Census is different in that the primary method for form collection will be online, but as many of you know internet access is simply not available in many rural areas of Oregon.
It’s important to note that Census Questionnaire Assistance (CQA) will be available by telephone and in multiple languages to help answer questions and resolve technical questions related to answering the census online. For the first time, CQA users can choose to answer the census over the phone. This may be particularly important in our areas with limited access to the internet, or for those of us who do not use or are not comfortable with the internet.
The Census Bureau is required to count all people living in the U.S., regardless of whether they have a fixed address.
If you don’t have a regular address, you can still fill out the Census using the address you stay at most often – even if that address isn’t a residence. You can use the address of a shelter that you frequent, a friend, or another geographic address where you sleep most nights.
Based on data collected by the 2020 Census, Oregon will receive about $3,200 per year, per person counted. That equals billions of federal dollars to Oregon over the next 10 years. Chronically undercounted and under-represented places, like people in our rural communities, must be seen to have our needs fully recognized.
You, your family, and our communities count. Being counted directly correlates to political representation and access to private and public resources. Being counted translates to dollars for our kids’ school district, representation of our issues at the local and state level, and critical public services like roads, hospitals, emergency services, community centers, and services for low-income and people of color.
A concern that continually comes up is the safety of your personal information. The Census Bureau cannot share the answers it receives with anyone, including welfare agencies, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (formerly INS), the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribal officials, tribal courts, tribal police, or the military.
Census employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect all information that could identify individuals. Anyone who breaks this law can receive up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
For additional assistance about filling out your census form contact Unite Oregon. https://www.uniteoregon.org/
Download our toolkit!
Download our Rural Oregonian Toolkit for additional information about taking the Census.