Census Day—April 1, 2020—is quickly approaching! This month, lookout for information coming to your mailboxes about the 2020 Census. Your participation is critical! Counting everyone in your household in the 2020 Census is your opportunity to help your community receive funding for public programs and services.

Every decade since 1790, the United States has counted its population. The U.S. Census Bureau uses that data to allocate $675 billion in federal funds to support programs in education, healthcare, transportation, parks and recreation services, and other important local resources.

In Arizona, census data helps with the distribution of federal funding across 55 programs, including the National Lunch Program, federal student loan programs, and many other programs that enhance quality of life. For each person counted, the state receives $2,959 in federal funding totaling more than $20 billion per year, which goes toward vital services including schools, emergency services, and hospitals.

There will be three secure and confidential ways to respond to the census. Each household will receive a code in the mail in March, directing the head of the household to complete the questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail. Each method takes under 10 minutes to complete and is completely safe and secure.

The Census questionnaire asks you to share demographic information, but your answers are strictly kept private and anonymous, even to other government agencies. Title 13 of the U.S. Code prohibits the Census Bureau from releasing any identifiable information about you or anyone else in your household. This law extends to protect your information from being shared with any person, organization, court, business or government agency, including law enforcement.

Anyone employed by the Census Bureau is sworn under oath to protect any identifiable information. Violating this law is a federal crime which could result in a $250,000 fine and/or up-to five years in jail. These strict penalties are put in place to ensure that census data is only used to generate the statistics that guide the distribution of federal funding and allocation of congressional representation.

Phoenix has made it a priority to educate the public about the census and ensure a complete count. I serve on Phoenix’s 2020 Census Ad Hoc Committee, which helps lead Census-related efforts.

To learn more about how every person has a direct impact on local programs, you can email or call Phoenix’s census coordinator, Leila Gamiz at leila.gamiz@phoenix.gov or 602-262-4078. The upcoming 2020 Census is a monumental event that only occurs every 10 years. It is important that we get it right to ensure Phoenix receives its fair share of funding.

Visit iCount2020.info to learn more about local census efforts.

Respectfully,

Debra Stark
City of Phoenix
District 3 Councilwoman