Question: I heard the Census is online this year. I am not as comfortable online, so I want to know how important it is for me to complete it?
The Census is a very important topic and one we should all understand so we can feel comfortable. It is especially important for seniors to complete as they are considered one of the “hard to count” populations. In part this is because seniors may not be comfortable on the internet as you have expressed. While the majority is done on the internet it is still available by mail or by phone. Completing the Census is an integral part of ensuring our County is represented and the State of California will get the appropriate funding.
The Census count is mandated in the U.S. Constitution. Once every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person in our country. This count is vital to understanding how funding, services and programs are distributed across the U.S.
It is easy to take for granted our government programs and funding for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and social services. We don’t think of ourselves as making a difference to these large programs. However, with the Census each person counted does make a significant difference. This is our chance to influence funding and services within Ventura County. Additionally, the count influences the number of seats California has in the U.S. House of Representatives
Each person in Ventura County that is counted by the Census will bring about $2,000 of funding to our county per year for the next 10 years until the Census count happens again. This adds up to $20,000 that each person brings to the county just by taking 10 minutes out of their day to answer the Census questionnaire. It is estimated that in the 2010 Census, 1.5 million people in California were not counted, resulting in a loss of billions of dollars for services.
The questionnaire consists of simple questions to understand who lives in your home. It will ask for names, sex, date of birth, race and phone numbers for each person in the home. The information gathered is used to create statistics about the age groups so funding can be distributed to programs appropriately. This is another reason it is so vital that seniors complete the questionnaire. It is estimated that Ventura County has almost 15% of people over the age of 65. In the state this number is closer to 13%. Having an accurate count of seniors in the Census will ensure the funding to our County for senior services will increase to meet the needs of our growing older population.
The Census does not ask for citizenship status. Your information will never be shared with your landlord or any other entity. The purpose is to create statistics only. By law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. Your answers are strictly confidential.
This is the first time the Census will be primarily completed on the internet. It will be available in 13 languages. Most homes will receive a mailing between March 12th and 20th that will provide instructions on where to go online to complete the Census form. Some areas do not have adequate access to the internet, and others may not feel comfortable or be computer proficient enough to complete the form online. For this reason, there is a phone or paper options to complete the Census that will be listed on the mailing you receive. If you want help completing the form online, you can visit your local library.
Starting in May, Census takers will visit homes that have not responded. The effort to complete the Census accurately in our county is huge because of how important it is to the future of our programs and services. Do you part and complete the Census. Your 10 minutes will make 10 years of difference in Ventura County.
Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, March 13, 7:30 – 10 p.m.: St. Patrick’s Day Dance at the Simi Valley Senior Center at 3900 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley. Live music by the Eric Ekstrand. Cost is $7 per person. For more information call 805-586-6363.
March 7-8, 10a.m. – 4p.m.: Annual Spring Art & Crafts Festival at Borchard Community Center, 190 Reino Road, Newbury Park.