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You Count: Why Young Professionals Need to Participate in the Census
September 2nd, 2020
By Melissa Fox

This year has brought us young professionals a lot to stress about… not seeing friends and family, working from home, the economic downturn and the inevitable “I have like 40 masks—why can’t I find one in my car” problem.

And I know we certainly do not need one more thing to think about, but as young people we need to care that Houston is lagging behind our peers when it comes to filling out the 2020 Census. At this point, only half of Houston households have filled out their census.

Why does this matter? Here are a few reasons. 

The Census Improves Our Community 

The Houston community is awesome, but there is always room for improvement; that is where the 2020 Census comes in. The Census influences where federal dollars will be spent on things like highway planning and public transportation grants. 

It also determines how to allocate spending for public schools and much needed educational programs such as Head Start, a program that is utilized by over 1,300 families in Harris County alone.  Based on the 2010 Census, Texas received $1.4 billion in Title I grants to distribute to local education agencies; the Houston region was allocated more than $346 million in that funding. 

The Census Shapes Our Future 

The Census also determines how the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are divided among the 50 states. From 1790 to the present, an apportionment has been made on the basis of each census; the only exception was the 1920 Census.
Ja’Salyn Smith, Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, recently spoke with Greater Houston Partnership members about the importance of the 2020 Census. “From the 2010 Census, Texas gained four seats in the House, and with a population that has ballooned in recent years, Texas could gain 2-3 more seats,” she explained. 

The Census Guides Our Response

Census data is a crucial part of the emergency response and recovery efforts that take place after natural disasters, informing the federal government where specific resources should be deployed. Reports that originate from census data, such as the American Community Survey, provide critical demographic, socioeconomic and housing data that help guide not only recovery efforts but planning for future emergencies. 

Community planners also use census data during their planning efforts. For example, knowing the population density along an evacuation route is key to understanding how long an emergency evacuation will take, or knowing that 86% of households in the 77011 Houston zipcode speak Spanish will determine how you provide life-saving information. 

So, have ten minutes? Seriously, that is all it takes to fill out your 2020 Census, and help Houston continue to be a great place to live, work and build a business. Don’t forget to tell your friends, family and neighbors (socially-distanced, of course) why they need to fill theirs out as well by the September 30 deadline. 

Need help spreading the word? Click here to check out some great resources from Harris Houston Counts. 

Still have questions about the 2020 Census? Click here to listen to a recent episode Bayou Business Download podcast. 

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