If you don’t fill out the census, you’re letting KC down

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Courtesy Census 2020.

Money is good. Free money is better.

Free money via filling out the U.S. Census that will ensure the state and community you currently live in receives its fair share of the $675 million in federal funding to spend on its schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and other vital programs that’ll benefit the community and improve the standard of living for you, your family, your friends, and anyone else you may care about for the foreseeable future? Sensational.

There’s just one problem: people that are able to fill out the census aren’t doing so.

It’s understandable given the pandemic they’re living in replicates what they used to read about in outdated history textbooks, but that just makes this decade’s census one of, if not, the most important census citizens need to answer.

Citizens living in cities that are located in counties across the country need help more than ever and this is one of the best ways to ensure that help is coming.

According to a report by KCUR, one in three Kansas households haven’t filled it out yet. That’s a lot of funding left on the table for the Sunflower State. That’s a lot of public resources that won’t have enough money to build to its full potential. It costs the state of Kansas and its communities $2,082 per year for 10 years for every person not counted in the Census. If 1,000 citizens in the state aren’t counted, that’s $15,390,000 gone that could be used to help improve the state.

While Kansas’ response rate of 64.5% is a little bit ahead of the national average of 61.6%, less than half of the population in some counties haven’t filled it out yet. This is the problem in rural areas, where counties like Hamilton and Kearny are reporting 40.9% and 34.4%, respectively. Syracuse, the highest populated city in Hamilton, has a higher reporting rate than the county it’s in, sitting at 42.2%. The same can’t be said for Lakin, the highest populated city in Kearny, which is reporting 30.9%.

This is the first year the census is able to be filled out online, which could explain why the response rates are low. Many families in rural areas don’t have access to smartphones, computers, or internet service and the pandemic has kept people that go door-to-door to help these families fill it out from doing so. It could also be that those college kids attending KU or other young people are filling out on their own for the first time and aren’t sure what to include.

Rural areas are also dependent on mail delivery. Census workers usually delivered the packets by hand and like the groups that work with families face-to-face to fill it out, workers weren’t able to deliver or give notice to these families until May, giving them little time to prepare and understand what the census means. Now that the workers are back in action, their plan is to keep knocking on doors until October.

If you’re in Kansas, reading this, and haven’t filled out the census yet, you can do so here. It’ll not only help determine where the money for over 300 programs goes, but it’ll keep workers from going outside and potentially coming into contact with COVID-19. If you’re in Missouri, fill it out here.

It takes three minutes and it shapes the future of our states. Please, please do this.

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