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Community News from the Heart of Summit County

Shape Silverthorne’s future with the 2020 census

Published March 9, 2020

Do you wish your voice could be heard when it comes to programming and decision making around education, infrastructure, safety or public policy in this community? Now’s your chance to make a difference by completing the 2020 census, which informs federal funding across the country for communities like Silverthorne. 

For the first time ever beginning in mid-March and lasting through July 2020, U.S. residents can go online and fill out a 10-question self-response questionnaire for the census. Now that’s a green and efficient choice! The questionnaire can also be completed by phone or by mail and will be offered in 12 non-English languages. Census takers will visit homes of those who haven’t responded from May through July. We encourage you to add your voice to this important data gathering process by participating today. 

Why participate?

The decennial census is fundamental to the very core of the democracy of the United States and is nearly as old as the country itself. The first U.S. census took place in 1790 and has occurred each decade since. In addition to tracking population growth and demographic changes, the census informs how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed annually. It also informs how congressional districts are drawn and the makeup of the 528-seat electoral college,  which gets divided based on populations. Interestingly, Colorado could go from its current nine electoral votes to 10, based on the outcome of the 2020 census.

Also, if a state or even a community is undercounted, it can miss out on vital funds for critical community programs that impact housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy. 

Census data can also inform important community decisions like: 

  • Where new schools, hospitals and public safety services are needed;
  • Where roads or highways should be constructed or repaired (in fact, in 2015 alone, the Department of Transportation distributed more than $38 billion through the Highway Planning and Construction program, a federal program tied to census statistics);
  • How the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual grants are distributed, which provide billions of dollars in discretionary funds that local governments can use to improve infrastructure;
  • Where services for families, older adults and children should be prioritized; 
  • How hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will be allocated to hospitals, fire departments, school lunch programs, and programs like Medicaid, Head Start and grants for community mental health services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 

Business owners can also benefit from census data to make decisions about where to open new stores, restaurants, factories or offices; where to expand operations; where to recruit employees; and what products or services to offer to appeal to the surrounding population. 

Who is included in the U.S. census? 

First of all, it’s important to note that there is no question about citizenship on the survey and information is collected and kept in the utmost privacy. But participation is critical. Everyone living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories is required by law to be counted in the 2020 census. This includes all native and foreign-born individuals, regardless of their status. Once again, questions about citizenship will not be included in the 2020 census survey.

Everyone is required by law to be counted in the 2020 census, meaning that if you are filling out the census for your home, you should count everyone who is living there as of April 1, 2020. This includes any friends or family members who are living and sleeping there most of the time. Please also be sure to count roommates, young children, newborns, and anyone who is renting a space in your home.

What information is collected? 

The Census Bureau asks 10 questions to find out how many people are living in a given house, apartment or other dwelling as of April 1, 2020, from infant to elderly. Information including name, birth date, gender, race and whether an individual is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin is also collected to avoid duplicative counting and to capture important statistics that can inform planning and government funding. The Bureau also seeks to understand if a residence is owned or rented to better understand the state of the nation’s economy and administer housing plans and programs. 

Phone numbers are collected but will only be used if official census follow-up is required. Follow-up phone calls from the Census Bureau are placed to a small sample of households who have completed the census as part of the quality control process. The purpose of these calls is to ensure that no person is left out of the census or counted in more than one place. Any phone call you placed by the Census Bureau will be brief, and all responses are kept confidential.

Is census data private and secure? 

Concerned about your privacy? Don’t be! The law ensures that your data is confidential, protected and cannot be used against you by any government agency or court, and, the U.S. government will not release personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it was collected for the decennial census.  Rest assured that the Census Bureau is committed to strict policies to help safeguard your information and maintain secure data collection processes. In fact, the security and layers of authentication being used are more robust than those of many financial institutions. The Census Bureau will deliver information as required by law to the President and Congress in December, and redistricting counts will be delivered to states by March 2021. 

What did we learn last time? 

The United States population grew 9.7 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 281,421,906 to 308,745,538. As a result of these population changes, eight states gained seats in the House of Representatives and 10 states had fewer seats. In Colorado, 2010 census data showed that the state’s population grew nearly 17 percent in the prior decade, pushing the number of residents to more than 5 million. Colorado did not gain or lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The 2010 census reported the population in Summit County at nearly 28,000, including 46 people per square mile. The reported population in 2010 included a split of approximately 46 percent female and 54 percent male. Of that population, nearly 82 percent reported as white and not of Hispanic or Latino descent while nearly 15 percent reported Hispanic or Latino. Summit County is currently part of Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, which encompasses the northwestern suburbs of Denver, including Boulder, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster, as well as Vail, Grand Lake and Idaho Springs. For more 2020 census information, visit https://2020census.gov.

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