Solano begins census push toward those hardest to count

February 20 2020

Daily Republic By Todd R. Hansen

FAIRFIELD — Solano County residents will soon begin to see a media push to be counted.

Robert Burris, president and chief executive officer of the Solano Economic Development Corp., told the Fairfield City Council this week that California will lose $1,000 in federal funding for every person who is not counted. That is $1,000 for every person, every year, until 2030.

He said if 5 percent of the population is not counted, the loss in funding would be $20 billion over 10 years statewide, and if 5 percent of Solano’s population goes uncounted, the county would lose about $250 million before the next census count.

Solano County hired the EDC to head the local census effort.

Burris said area residents will begin to see an informational campaign about the need to complete the census and be counted, a campaign that will include drop-off material at locations such as libraries, as well as the use of social media and other traditional media.

California is already combating false social media alerts designed to keep certain sections of the population from being counted, and particularly undocumented residents.

Burris told the council at its Tuesday night meeting that the state and local effort are specifically targeting those populations that have been hardest to count, such as the homeless, people who do not speak English, children younger than 5.

“The state will seek to reach more than 13.5 million households in California utilizing $150 million in funding to raise awareness of the 2020 census and motivate the hardest-to-count Californians to respond,” information in the slide presentation states.

Training for those workers who will go out into the communities and knock on doors also is starting.

There are 21 census tracts in three cities that are classified as above the median Hard-to-Count Index, Burris noted, and 13 primary factors that “contribute to a non-response to the census questionnaire.”

The primary areas that fit that research are neighborhoods in Vallejo, Fairfield and Dixon.

“Those have been our priority areas,” Burris said.

The top three reasons, according to Burris’ presentation, are unemployment, a recent move to the area and households on public assistance.

The census team has identified 20 locations for its Question Assistance Centers, which are manned, and Question Assistance Kiosks, which will only have information for people to take or read. Burris said they will likely identify more locations leading up to April 1, which is Census Day.

The material is being made available in 15 languages.

“And we want to make sure the data we collect is good for the next 10 years,” Burris said.

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