Submitted by Duncan Wilson
Town of Friday Harbor Administrator
During these trying times when most of us are following stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, I wanted to draw your attention to a critical operation that is underway in our community; the 2020 Census. It is extremely important that everyone in our community is counted.
Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau began distributing invitations to participate in the census throughout the country. Many homes received their invitation in the mail. Some homes, primarily those with PO boxes, did not receive an invitation in the mail but had an invitation left at their home. Unfortunately, many homes with PO boxes did not receive their invitation because the Census Bureau had to suspend its field operations in the middle of March due to the coronavirus.
I am writing today to encourage all of you to take a break from your essential job, your new “profession” as an at-home educator or your care and protection of your family to take the time and answer the on-line Census questions required of each household in the country. You should answer the census, whether you received an invitation or not. You do not need to wait for an invitation to answer.
There are three easy ways to participate:
• Answer online at www.2020census.gov.
• Call toll-free to 844-330-2020 (English) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish). Call centers are open from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m.
• Return a paper form via the mail (this option is only available if you received a paper form in the mail).
The census is critical to our community. To date, the participation by town residents is approximately 32.8 percent and countywide is only 25.5 percent. The U.S. Census is conducted every 10 years and is an important process that determines such important questions as the number of congressional seats the state of Washington will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. Census data also impacts more than $675 billion distributed by the federal government every year to the states.
In 2018, Washington received more than $16 billion in federal funding. Those funds are for critical programs like Medicare, the school lunch program, Head Start, transportation funding programs, and much more. Many of the nonprofits in our community rely on census data to apply for critical funding grants.
We need every person in our community to be counted. It takes about 10 minutes to participate but the impact the data will have on our community will last until the next census in the year 2030.
I urge everyone to take a few minutes today and complete the census. Let me reassure you that your personal information is kept private for 72 years and no one in the Census Bureau can release your personal information. To quote the Bureau:
“Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies. The law states that the information collected may only be used for statistical purposes and no other purpose.“
The census is easy, safe and important. If you have questions or want more information, please visit ww.2020census.gov.
Thank you for your support and for helping make our community a better place to live!