Billions of federal dollars for schools, health services, child care, emergency services and many more programs will be determined by the 2020 United States Census. That’s why it’s vital all communities, especially those that are underserved, stand up and be counted. Todos Contamos! El Concilio is leading the effort to ensure Hispanics are represented by going into the community and helping people fill out the census.
The 2020 census will decide the number of California’s Congressional members and Electoral College votes. With votes come power and a complete count means more people who truly represent and advocate for communities will be in impactful positions.
The U.S. Constitution requires a census of all persons living in the country every 10 years, so this is the only opportunity to shape California’s future before 2030.
“We are still a large population that does not get counted,” said Dr. Inés Ruiz-Huston, Vice President of Special Programs and Operations with El Concilio. “The reason we don’t get counted is because we’re scared. We’re afraid because of the current climate of our nation. People may turn away.”
Ruiz-Huston said it’s important to remind everyone the census does not ask questions about citizenship. President Donald Trump wanted a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, but he was blocked. Responses are safe and secure and cannot be shared with or by government agencies or used in any way against respondents.
Breaking down the fear factor is important in underserved areas where the counts are low, such as downtown, east Stockton along Wilson Way and south Stockton around Charter Way and the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. For instance, Census Tract 1, downtown Stockton, has more than 4,000 residents, of whom 53% are Hispanic, and 52% are living below the poverty line. So far, only about 32% have been counted, Ruiz-Huston said.
“We want to let people know, first of all, that all of their information is confidential,” she said. “Two, we do not ask the citizenship question. That is not on the census. We want to remind people that if we miss this, we’re not going to be able to capture for another 10 years.”
The census is about fixing roads, improving schools, building more medical centers and much more.
“So we want people to be counted,” Ruiz-Huston said. “Having our community counted will bring more resources to the city and into our county and overall into our state.”
El Concilio promoted the census at selected TNT Fireworks locations prior to the Fourth of July and will conduct Census Caravans in collaboration with 12 nonprofits, including Fathers and Families, Juneteenth, NAACP Stockton Branch, Ministers and Community United, Little Manila and Comerciantes Unidos. In June, El Concilio visited La Fiesta Market on El Dorado Street and captured several families who were willing to fill out the census on tablets. El Concilio also provides Census Pop-Ups at high-traffic locations, such as shopping centers and apartment complexes. The deadline to complete the census has been extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic from July to October.
“We’re hoping to get a second opportunity when schools are coming back in August to really push it at Back to School nights and hit the different community schools to get the families to do it right then and there,” Ruiz-Huston said.
El Concilio also has free floor decals that say CaliforniaCensus.org. Businesses can use the decals to space their customers six feet apart to comply with the physical distancing signage that is part of the state’s mandate related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“If people are waiting in line, they can do their California census on their phone,” she said. “If you’re waiting at the bank and you know it’s going to take you a half-hour to an hour before you talk to somebody, you might as well complete your Census 2020.”
Any business that would like free floor decals can call El Concilio at (209) 644-2623 or drop by the office at 445 N. San Joaquin St. For information about the 2020 United States Census, visit https://www.2020census.gov.
“We really want our community to count,” Ruiz-Huston said. “We really want Stockton to count.