VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The 2020 census is currently underway and Representative Elaine Luria held a round table to discuss the ways undercounting could affect her district.
Luria was joined by those who work for the Census Bureau as well as people in the community working to get people counted.
Earlier this month, Luria issued a press release about a report on the costs of underreporting from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
“This new report makes it clear that a complete Census count is essential for our district,” said Congresswoman Luria in the release. “As we face a public health crisis and global economic downturn, it is crucial for our community to secure the funding we are entitled to for critical services like education, medical care, and job programs. To ensure that our community has the resources we need for the next decade, every person in our district must be counted.”
According to Ron Brown, who is the Census Partnership Coordinator for Virginia, says that Virginia’s enumerated response rates is at about 95 percent. That number includes the number of housing units who have self-responded and data collected from those working in the field.
The government uses data collected from the Census to distribute money to communities from education, grants, program, job training, emergency services, and more.
“More than ever before due to the pandemic, people are looking for these services. They’re looking for help,” Brown said.
Brown says that each person counted would average about $2,000 annually in funding and $20,000 per decade.
Not being counted costs much needed money.
“If just one percent of our community was undercounted, the amount of Federal funding we could lose in the 2nd district could be a quarter of a million for Federal Funding in education,” she said.
Minorities, immigrants, the homeless population as well as people who are living in domestic violence shelters as well as living in hotels are also underrepresented on the census.
Those at the roundtable say it’s sometimes to do access.
Latiesha Handie, who is the executive director of the Hamptons Citizens’ Unity Commission, says they have had to come up with new ways to let people know about the census such as working with food banks to get the word out.
“Hampton is doing all we can just as all the other cities are doing. It just boils down to that information is an important value for people that need to be counted,” she said.
Dr. James Allen, who is with the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference, is working also working in his city to get the word out.
“People know the census is there. They just don’t see the importance of it. I pray that we can overcome it,” he said.
Dr. William O’Hare, who is president of O’Hare Data and Demographic Services, LLC, says that another group that is underrepresented on the census are young children.
In the 2010 census, there were a million children not counted, according to O’Hare.
He says that people living in Accomack and Northampton County on the Eastern Shore are also not being counted. Some of it is due to vacant homes and seasonal homes.
The Census is expected to end at the end of the month, however, Brown says there is ongoing litigation to get the date continued. Until they hear otherwise, he encourages people to continue to submit their responses.
“It’s not too late.they can fill out their census forms and turn them in,” he said.
To fill out your Census or learn more, click here.