Every ten years, every person in the United States and their territories are counted. This count is called the census. The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in the United States and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
The results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. It helps make sure your voice is heard. PA is at risk of losing a seat in the House of Representatives if our state is undercounted.
Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.
Unfortunately, certain population groups – referred to as “hard-to-count” – are at a higher risk of not being fully counted in the decennial census. Some of these groups have been historically underrepresented in the decennial census for decades. This includes people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 211 have received $25,000 from PA DCED to promote census outreach to people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness. We will be focusing on historically undercounted counties outside of areas where philanthropy has already heavily invested in Census activities. This work will be conducted in partnership with PA 211 contact centers which serve as the phone access point for HUD-funded services. It will also include digital marketing. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Census count will take place through October 31, 2020.
UWP and PA 211 will:
- Endeavor to reach out to people calling 211 through PA 211 contact centers serving as phone access points for HUD-funded services. PA 211 Housing Specialists will be asking each caller if they have completed the census.
- If a caller has not completed the census, PA 211 Housing Specialists will refer them to complete the census online, via phone, or via mail.
- Housing Specialists will be trained to answer FAQs about the census, why it is important, and whether or not it is safe
- UWP will launch a digital marketing campaign targeted to those experiencing homelessness or at-risk of being homeless encouraging them to complete the census as well.
- Digital marketing will take place on various social media channels.
Through 211 and digital marketing efforts, UWP hopes to make an impact in ensuring these people are counted and their voices are taken into consideration when planning for PA’s future.