WH AT I S T H E CENSUS? The census is a constitutionally mandated survey of everyone living in the United States. Results influence federal funding, government representation and corporate decisions.
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Local entities push for an accurate count in the 2020 census
The census influences local representation through redistricting. Here is how Williamson and Travis counties have been affected over time. POWER MOVES The Census Bureau also believes it undercounted Texans by 239,500 people in the last census. At $1,500 per person per year, an estimate given by the bureau, the state lost billions in federal funding that goes toward pro- grams, including subsidized school Texas lost an estimated $3.59 billion in federal funding due to an under- count in the 2010 census, pushing local municipalities and nonprofits to rev up participation in the coming census, according to census data. The census is a constitutionally mandated survey, taken every 10 years to count each person on April 1. The census is only used for data-gath- ering purposes, said Douglas Loveday, senior media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau. The results are used to determine federal funding allocations, govern- ment representation at the federal and local levels, and corporate deci- sions, all of which could have major impacts on residents, Loveday said. Money at stake Every year, the federal government distributes $675 billion to states based on population, which is then divided among state programs, municipalities and nonprofits, Loveday said. In 2016, the most recent data available, Texas received $59.41 billion, which was dis- persed to 55 federal programs guided by 2010 census data. BY EMMA FREER AND ALI LINAN Money, power, business at stake in decennial poll
is shared with Bell County, located north of Williamson County. John Lawler, census program man- ager in Travis County, said redis- tricting does not only affect state representation but also lines for city council and school board districts. These representatives make decisions on how tax dollars are spent, which schools are built or closed, transpor- tation needs and land-development plans, among other major decisions. “This data is going to affect redis- tricting,” Loveday said. “That is han- dled by the state Legislature, but the data that they are going to do that with is provided by this 2020 census.” Business at stake Census data influences business decisions, too, said Sarah Ortiz Shields, AustinTechAllianceexecutivedirector. She added that where businesses decide to build has a ripple effect into the local economy, impacting the amount of sales taxes an area can col- lect as well as job creation. It may lead to the need for additional roads and infrastructure, she said. And because the census is only taken every 10 years, the impact can be significant. “Business owners can consult that census data to understand where to open a new location,” Ortiz Shields said. “[The census results] are going to drive business decisions for years to come.”
lunches; the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program; student and housing loans; and transportation projects, Loveday said. Funding is also distributed to local nonprofits and organizations that res- idents may rely on, such as the Wil- liamson County Children’s Advocacy Center, CASA of Williamson County andUnitedWay ofWilliamsonCounty. Katie Martin Lightfoot, a census community engagement coordinator for the Center for Public Policy Priori- ties, said with a 1% undercount, Texas stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, which could go directly to supporting local organizations that may heavily depend on that funding. Williamson County Judge Bill Grav- ell said, following the 2010 census, Williamson County received about $1.2 million annually for community block grants, which went toward increasing access to affordable hous- ing and fair housing projects. “An accurate census is really important for the next generation,” Gravell said. “Every federal dollar coming back to the community for the next 10 years will be decided in the next [five] months.” Power at stake With an accurate count, Texas is expected to gain at least three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, jumping from 36 to 39, the second most in the country after California with 53 representatives. Currently, Travis County is split among five representatives, and Wil- liamson County’s one representative
What is on the census?
The census only seeks basic demographic information in the form of 10 questions and is anonymized and not available to other government agencies, law-enforcement agencies, landlords or financial institutions.
Questions asked by the bureau: Household size Additional people staying
Own or rent home Telephone number First and last name Sex Age and date of birth Hispanic/Latino Race Relationship
Questions never asked by the bureau:
Citizenship status Social Security number Financial information
For the first time, the census can be completed on paper, online and over the phone. Completing the census
The print version is available in languages. 59 The online and phone versions are available in languages. 13
For more information, visit communityimpact.com .
Following 2000 census Williamson County population: 249,964 No. of congressional districts: 2 Travis County population: 812,291 No. of congressional districts: 2
Following 2010 census Williamson County population: 422,679 No. of congressional districts: 1 Travis County population: 1,024,266 No. of congressional districts: 5
Texas population 20,851,820 No. of congressional districts 32 Following 2000 census
Texas population 30,541,978 * No. of congressional districts 39 * Following 2020 census
SOURCES: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
ROUND ROCK - PFLUGERVILLE - HUTTO EDITION • APRIL 2020
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