Columbus and Franklin County officials have formed a committee and action plan to ensure an accurate Census count next year.
With the 2020 Census approaching, Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther and Franklin County commissioner Kevin Boyce are leading outreach efforts as co-chairs of the region's Complete Count Committee. The U.S. Constitution requires a count of every person living in the country every ten years. The federal government relies on states, cities, and municipalities to ensure accurate totals. There are a couple areas of concern. For the first time, the Census Bureau will encourage residents to respond online. Columbus and Franklin County officials say that presents challenges to residents who lack regular internet access or experience. They also note the region's rapid growth combined with increased population diversity and families living in informal and sometimes transitional arrangements. Part of the action plan involves outreach to hard to count populations, including ethnic and racial minorities, senior citizens, young people experiencing homelessness, and individuals who do not speak English as a first language. Some 30 subcommittees will also engage specific communities to let them know the importance of responding to the 2020 Census. Results determine the number of seats allocated to Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives. Census numbers also help decide where to distribute $675 billion in annual federal spending. Central Ohio officials say programs that rely on accurate census data for funding include Medicaid, highway planning and construction, special education grants, Head Start and Early Head Start, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Columbus/Franklin County Complete Count Committee will begin more education and outreach efforts this summer. A website with more information can be found here. The Census Bureau launches its nationwide campaign early next year.