RCIL, other groups promote Census 2020 awareness campaign

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The Resource Center for Independent Living and a coalition of other community organizations are promoting awareness of taking part in the 2020 Census and helping residents make sure they are counted.

In mid-March, households across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the Census.

Once the invitation arrives, residents can respond by mail, phone or on-line. This is the first time the Census can be completed by phone or on-line.

After completing the Census, residents are encouraged to use the hashtag #icount on social media to promote public awareness about the Census and encourage their friends and family to participate.

The Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and conducted every 10 years. An estimated $675 billion in federal funds is distributed each year using Census data.

These funds support local infrastructure, education, health care, housing, economic development and community service programs.

The Census count is also used for drawing boundaries of districts for federal, state and local elected offices so that each district has approximately the same number of residents. The Census Bureau is to send redistricting information to states by March 31, 2021.

By federal law, the Census Bureau cannot share identifiable information about residents with any other agency, including law enforcement.

The Census Bureau has plans to help ensure residents take part, according to a webinar the bureau held this week.

It plans to send notices by mail to all known addresses in March. Residents can expect to receive them March 12-20, with reminder letters coming March 16-24, and reminder postcards March 26 through April 3.

After that, households that have not responded will get a reminder letter with a paper questionnaire April 8-16. A final reminder postcard will be sent April 20-27. In May, census takers will visit non-responding households. Residents may respond online through July, however.

On March 30 through April 1, special Census Bureau personnel will count homeless people, including those in shelters, at soup kitchens and mobile food vans and in outdoor sites such as tent encampments and on the streets.

Census takers will also visit college students who live on campus, people in senior centers and in other group residents in April.

Residents can come to RCIL Centers in Utica, Herkimer or Amsterdam to access a computer or phone to complete the Census.

Residents can also access Wi-Fi or a computer at any of the 45 libraries within the Mid-York Library System located in Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties, including the Jervis Public Library, 613 North Washington St. in Rome.

RCIL centers are 131 Genesee St. in Utica; Dorothy Smith Center, 1607 Genesee St. in Utica; 347 W. Main St., Amsterdam; and 420 E. German Street, Herkimer.

RCIL centers are available to residents with any disability or to individuals who don’t have a disability.

In addition, The Center, formerly the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, will provide cultural expertise and language support through interpretation for outreach sessions and individual appointments to complete the census, as well as facilitate the translation of written outreach materials.

The Census Bureau itself plans to dispatch about 4,700 response assistants who visit areas where response is lacking. They will have tablets to show people how using their own device or help them call the Census Bureau. They will each wear a teal shirt with the Census Bureau logo, carry a bureau bag and identification card.

The #icount campaign is supported by the New York State Census Equity Fund to improve Census response rates of historically undercounted populations such as individuals of low income, minorities, refugees, the homeless, individuals with disabilities, residents in rural/isolated areas, older adults, etc.

Other participating organizations include:

Rescue Mission,

Parkway Center,

Upstate Cerebral Palsy,

Home Ownership Center,

The Genesis Group,

The Center,

The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties,

Mohawk Valley Housing & Homeless Coalition,

The ARC Oneida-Lewis Chapter,

Mid-York Library System,

City of Utica Access & Inclusion Committee,

Mohawk Valley Latino Association,

Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, and

Catholic Charities Oneida/Madison County.

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