Though our nation’s decennial head count is often only thought of as a way to ensure proper representatives in Congress, the more tangible effect of the U.S. Census is the equitable distribution of federal funds.
To that end, a group of 50 people from agencies around the state have formed Alaska Counts, to educate people statewide on the importance of a complete count. One of them is Tim Dillon of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District.
“It means an awful lot from an economic standpoint. Whether it be resources for hospitals and roads and different kinds of infrastructure, community services, whether it be the the kids, the vets, the seniors, all of it ties back to your census,” he said. “So when, say the food bank is writing a grant, or Boys and Girls Club, one of the things that they have to include is how many people they're serving, how large of an area it is, all that kind of data. This is where they get that data from.”
Dillon says every one of the roughly 50,000 residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough is worth about $3,000 in additional federal funds for hospitals, roads, veterans and seniors — to name just a few — if they’re counted.
Dillon says the campaign is needed to address concerns people have surrounding the census.
“You know, from what I gather people that aren't sure what's going on, 'why are you getting this information? what are you going to do with this information?' You know, we live in a world right now where you have to be careful about certain things,” he said. “So, this is set up in a way that it's got nine basic questions, 10 basic questions.”
Though the U.S. Census kicks off on Jan. 21st of 2020, Dillon says prep work is already under way.
“There's actually people knocking on doors as we sit here today, checking on different addresses making sure that all the information the basic data is in there. Because as you know, people build new houses and there's new developments and things all over,” he said. “So, you're going to have several opportunities to do this without anybody even showing up on your doorstep. You'll get a postcard, you'll be able to do it online. You know, it's, it's really set up so it'll be pretty easy.”
More information about the initiative and the census can be found on the Alaska Census Working Group’s website.