Local Leaders and Advocates Hold 2020 Census Kick off

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh joined a group of local non-profit leaders and advocates at the East Boston Library to kickoff a year-long outreach campaign to ensure a fair and complete count in the 2020 U.S. Census.

The event drew leaders and advocates from across Greater Boston and local leaders were on hand to support not only Boston’s efforts but to show there’s a strong partnership with communities that surround Boston.

The census will be issued exactly one year from the past Monday, starting the decennial count that determines everything from representation in Congress, to federal funds for schools, affordable housing, infrastructure and health care programs.

“To all the partners in the room we can’t do this without you,” said Walsh Monday. “It’s so important to be counted. We need to make sure we are all counted because it determines our representation in Congress and I can’t underscore that enough. We need accurate census counts to protect our voices in Congress. Right now the investments that were made from the 2010 census were free lunches at public schools, funds for affordable housing, senior services, job training for our residents for the future. If we don’t do the count accurately we won’t get what is due to us in the Commonwealth.”

Walsh pointed out that for every person not counted in the upcoming census equals $2,400 in lost federal money every year for the next ten years.

“Think of it? If 100,000 people are not counted that translates into 2.4 billion the state loses in federal aid over the next decade,” said Walsh.

Monday’s kickoff also highlighted a range of collaborations across Greater Boston focused on ensuring that all residents are aware of the upcoming census, know why it’s important, and are prepared to participate. Next year’s Census faces unprecedented challenges, including significant underfunding of the U.S. Census Bureau, the nearly all-digital nature of the surveys, and the possible inclusion of a citizenship question.

At the kickoff other speakers commented there are multiple hard-to-count populations that reside in Massachusetts that historically have made a complete census count difficult. This is due in part to the state’s population of recent immigrants, renters, college students, and other hard-to-count populations. Boston is the ninth hardest-to-count city among the largest 100 cities nationwide, according to a recent report  by Boston Indicators and the Boston Foundation.

“The library’s mission is to support this work of civic engagement,” said David Leonard, president of the Boston Public Library Monday. “We will continue being a trusted information provider, a safe space, and help everyone be counted, whether you arrived yesterday, ten years ago, or have been here for many, many generations.”

Chair of the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund Alexie Torres said trusted messengers will play a particularly important role in compelling individuals from hard-to-count communities to participate in the 2020 Census.

“The Massachusetts Census Equity Fund just announced the first half a million dollars in grants to over 40 organizations across the state, all to ensure that fear doesn’t drive us into darkness,” said Alexie Torres. “Darkness can only be cast out when we stand in the light. We must come together and support trusted messengers to highlight what’s at stake for the 2020 census.”

For more information on the City’s outreach efforts to ensure a fair and complete count, please visit boston.gov/2020-census.

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