The Next 400: Why some Americans distrust the census

The Next 400: Why some Americans distrust the census

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A decade ago there were a little over 209 million people living in America according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

As of 2019 there were an estimated 328 million plus people calling America home.

Freddy Collier is the Director of the Cleveland City Planning Commission.

“It’s also very important for the allocation of resources to cities,” said Collier. “Right now there’s about 675 billion dollars at stake.”

Every person that’s not counted costs their community about $1,800 a year for ten years. Everyone living in America has a stake in the census which has been taken every decade since 1790.

“That is medical attention for minorities who are already under-served, it could be a lack of under representation and how they’re redistricting, according to the census,” said Ruth Price Rollins, President of the Greater Cleveland Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated.

Her organization is working to convince people to complete their 2020 Census forms.

She says Ohio’s voting representation in the U.S. Congress is determined by its population. If we lose too many people we also lose members in Congress.

For Cleveland there’s another problem, a very low rate of filling out the 2020 Census forms and returning them.

“Cleveland is actually 68 among 68 other cities nationally who have populations of 300,000 or more,” said Meredith Turner, Chair of the Social Action Committee for the Greater Cleveland Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.

“I think people are afraid to share information. And in this crazy society that we live in today that might be a barrier to them wanting to participate.”

Starting later in August people will be going door-to-door helping people fill out and return their census forms and helping them understand the importance of “every person” living in “each household” being counted. The enumerators will be properly identified with badges.

Elisa Clark of the Hispanic Filmmakers of Cleveland says in addition to language barriers and often not understanding why and how to fill out the census form many Hispanics are hesitant.

“Another reason happens to be especially in this current climate, is you know, being afraid that their information is going to be utilized against them,” said Clark.

Others are also concerned about what may happen with their info given to the government. An already difficult process is made worse by the coronavirus.

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19 News partners with Cleveland Public Library for The Next 400 series

The Cleveland Public Library will provide additional resources to help viewers further understand these tough issues.