By Helen Roldan MPA '19
Did you know that some of the services impacted by the Census include public safety, transportation, health, education and economic development? At a local level, FIU students and researchers rely on census figures every day to better understand population characteristics, business information and assess needs and service gaps.
The FIU Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center is designated as an official Census Information Center, with the mission to provide efficient access to Census Bureau data products to underserved population groups. Census data is used in all of the center’s research, to define community needs, understand our local economy and workforce, identify challenges like housing affordability, income inequality and community resilience, and develop solutions to address South Florida’s challenges.
Last year, the FIU Metropolitan Center received nearly $2 million in research funding—all of which heavily relies on U.S. Census Data. Our research includes the City of Miami’s Affordable Housing Master Plan, Miami's Manufacturing Sector, Status of Women in Miami-Dade, and Broward County’s Commercial Linkage Fee Study, to name a few.
Why is the Census important?
More than ever, it is important to fill out the census to ensure our community receives a complete and accurate count. According to George Washington University, at least $1.5 trillion in federal funding is dispersed throughout the country using census-derived data. In 2016, Florida received at least $45 billion using census derived data to fund over 55 programs, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, highway planning and construction, Section 8 housing choice vouchers, Head Start, and foster care.
Florida is considered one of the states with the highest risk for undercounting according to the Urban Institute. Specific groups have historically been undercounted, such as low-income households, communities of colors, renters, and households with children under 5. Adults between the ages of 18-34 are also considered a risk for being undercounted. With less individuals counted, local governments, programs, and organizations may receive less federal funding to properly assist their communities. (The FIU Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center conducted a study on hard-to-count groups in Miami-Dade and Broward County to better understand what their barriers and motivators are in completing the census.)
Who is counted?
The 2020 Census will ask a few simple questions about you and everyone who is or will be living with you on April 1, 2020. One person should respond for each home and they should know general information about each person living there. This includes young children, foster children, roommates, and any family members or friends who are living with you, even temporarily. It should even include individuals who may be renting a room in your household.
How should people respond?
Responding to the census has never been easier. You can respond online, over the phone, or by mail using the invitation that was mailed to your household.
For more information on responding, visit https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html
Are my responses secure?
Yes! The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential.
This law protects your answers to the 2020 Census. Under Title 13, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. Violating Title 13 is a federal crime, punishable by prison time and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. Your answers are kept anonymous: The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or anyone else in your home. For more information on privacy visit https://2020census.gov/en/data-protection.html
Helen Roldan is research and outreach coordinator for FIU's Jorge Perez Metropolitan Center, part of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs.