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Mayor Jim Kenney and Philly Counts 2020 committee members during Census Day 2019. Photo: Sandra Rodriguez
Mayor Jim Kenney and Philly Counts 2020 committee member during Census Day 2019. Photo: Sandra Rodriguez

Philly begins one-year countdown until 2020 Census

“It will affect how we are treated by the federal government over the next decade, and the way things have been going we have to make sure we get everyone…

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With the 2020 U.S. Census exactly one year away - April 1, 2020 - Mayor Jim Kenney and the Philly Counts 2020 committee came together to kick off the one-year countdown, marking Monday as Census Day 2019.

The celebration was hosted at the National Constitution Center, where members of the committee addressed the importance of the 2020 Census.

Every 10 years, the U.S Census Bureau conducts a population count of everyone living in the United States. The goal for the 2020 Census is to count everyone once, only once, and in their correct place of residence. 

“It is critically important that every Philadelphia resident is counted in the upcoming 2020 Census,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau will not only determine our Congressional representation, but it will also help ensure we get our fair share of funding for critical programs like special education grants, SNAP, Section 8 housing, and federal Pell Grants. The need for a full, accurate count is vital to our city’s future, which is why we established Philly Counts 2020 and the Complete Count Committee," he added.

With over $675 billion of federal funds at stake, a nontransparent count could jeopardize a community's funding for vital programs.  

Mayor Jim Kenney says the current administration has added some additional challenges for the upcoming 2020 census. However, the committee is going to make sure those challenges don't interfere with getting accurate counts.

To this end, the possible re-implementation of a citizenship question proposed by the Trump administration has previously been discussed as a concern for the 2020 Census. Despite it, the mayor and the committee remained determined not to allow that to cause any interference.

“We have in Philadelphia very strong public interest organizations that are going to protect us and protect people who are being counted to ensure that fear does not interfere with the count,” said Will Gonzalez, Executive Director of Ceiba.

In addition, Philadelphia will also have Complete Count Subcommittees, including: Aging, African American, African & Caribbean, Asian American, Census Jobs, Civic Engagement, Corporations & Philanthropy, Children & Youth, Higher Education, Homeless & Public Housing, Immigrant & Limited English Proficient, Interfaith, Labor, Latino, LGBTQ+, Municipal Departments, Neighborhood Business, Nonprofit, Community, & Civic, and People with Disabilities. Philly Counts is still accepting applications for the Complete Count Subcommittees.

“We need to make sure that together we work to eliminate that fear and the best people that can do that are not necessarily government employees, they are community leaders, people that are trusted and understand the community,” said Fernando Armstrong, director of the Philadelphia Regional Census Center.

“We are committed in the Census Bureau to make sure that in 2020 we have the best census. It doesn’t matter where people come from, it doesn’t matter how they look, or how they sound, we need everyone included,” he added.

Philly Counts 2020 will focus on Census Bureau hiring and Census participation to ensure the complete count of people living in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the Complete Count Committee will focus on educating and raising awareness to increase the response rate.

For more information on Philadelphia’s efforts to support the next United States Census, including volunteer and job opportunities, visit the City’s website.                   

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