Pittsburgh District 1 Councilman Bobby Wilson discusses how important it is for Northsiders to be counted in this year’s U.S. Census.
Photo of Pittsburgh’s City Council Chambers by Ashlee Green
Sept. 30, 2020 is the deadline to get counted in the 2020 Census.
Recently, the federal government moved up the deadline to get counted by one month. That means we have one month left to make sure our families, our friends, and our neighbors all get counted, so that our communities are awarded the resources they deserve.
It is extremely important that everyone gets counted for two reasons. First, for every person in the Northside who is not counted by September 30, we lose about $2,000 a year in federal funding for critical services like transportation, schools, hospitals, roads, and other community improvements. And since the Census only happens once every 10 years, every Northsider we fail to count will cost us $20,000 over the next decade. Right now, more than ever we are relying on essential services to keep our communities safe. Adequate federal funding for health care, education, and emergency food and shelter programs depends on getting an accurate Census count. We need to get every available dollar from this Census to continue delivering these essential services. Second, results from the 2020 Census are used to determine the number of seats Pennsylvania has in Congress. State and local officials will also use the results of the 2020 Census to redraw state and local district boundaries so that they contain roughly equal numbers of people. This is to ensure that each citizen’s voting power is closely equivalent, satisfying the substance of the “one-person, one vote” rule. If you do not get counted, then your voting power is likely to get weakened for every election in the next decade—whether you’re voting for the next president of the United States or your school board representative.
It is especially important to make sure that residents who live in “hard-to-count” neighborhoods get counted this time around. “Hard-to-count” neighborhoods are those where the response rate to the 2020 Census is lower than 50%. In the Northside, in my Council District, these neighborhoods are East Allegheny, Fineview, and Marshall-Shadeland. If residents of these neighborhoods do not get counted, then they will get less political representation and less resources from every level of government. Such undercounting leads to structural disparities in the resources and power that flow into a neighborhood. If we fail to get far more residents counted in these neighborhoods by the end of this month, then we are condemning these neighborhoods to the consequences of systemic racism for the next decade.
Getting counted is easy. All you have to do is call 1-844-330-2020 or go to my2020census.gov. The Census questionnaire contains only 10 questions and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. In this summer of social distancing, it has never been easier to respond to the Census on your own, whether online or over the phone—all without having to meet a census taker. Once you’re done, or if you have already been counted, take a few moments to call, text, or email at least 10 people you know who need a nudge. Tell them they are leaving $20,000 on the table if they do not get counted, share the Census phone number and website with them, and urge them to get counted before September 30.
In the meantime, please feel free to contact my office if you have any other questions, concerns, or stories. You can call my office at (412) 255-2135, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We look forward to hearing from all of you.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
COUNCILMAN, DISTRICT 1