Deadline for 2020 Census is approaching, leaders encourage participation

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Monday if the U.S. Census numbers in Austin were counted right now, only 66 percent of the population would be included.

Those left out households translates to a more than $350 million loss in city funding for many programs. “From a Travis County perspective $350 million is a third of our overall budget,” said State Senator Sarah Eckhardt, (D) Austin.

The Census results determine where money for food assistance, healthcare,  housing, and education goes. “It's how we understand ourselves, track our growth, how we acknowledge the challenges of that growth. Central Texas is a community of great diversity and sometimes some of us are invisible in this community,” said Eckhardt.

Counting teams have been formed to get boots on the ground and let underrepresented communities know the importance of being counted, especially the immigrant community, which advocates as Genesis Sanchez says are often afraid to participate. “We have definitely seen an increased distrust in the government not only because of things like the citizenship question but because of the noise around the Census,” she said.

This year is even more unique, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanchez believes that means it's more important to be counted now more than ever.

“We know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black and Latino communities, so we want as community members to be more prepared so whatever emergency comes next we have the tools and resources to survive and to fight. When we complete the census we are advocating for more emergency preparedness and funds for the future,” said Sanchez.

“It does absolutely assist with the distribution of healthcare but I think the major benefit from a pandemic standpoint is federal assistance in economic recovery,” said Eckhardt.

Mayor Adler said it is now crunch time, with ten days left to get those remaining households counted.