You Can Make Sure Jamaica Plain Residents Are Counted in U.S. Census

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A local organization wants volunteers for a campaign to raise awareness about the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census to make sure that all Jamaica Plain residents are counted.

"JPNDC is launching a Census 2020 campaign because much of our community -- especially immigrants, people of color, and low-income households -- is at high risk of being undercounted," said a Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) email newsletter. "If we're not counted, we lose resources and representation in government!"

The JPNDC breaks down on its website why the U.S. Census is vital to Jamaica Plain, Boston and Massachusetts residents.

The census is required by the US constitution. The first census after the Revolutionary War was in 1790 and there have been 22 federal censuses taken since the first, with the last one being in 2010.

Census data is used by the government in a variety of important decisions, including determining how an estimated $880 billion in federal funds will be spent each year. The funds will be spent on where roads, bridges, and schools will be built, and provided to federal, state, and local government representatives for communities. Housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy, are also impacted.

One member of each household fills out the census, and can do so by responding to the census mailed to your residence, by phone, email or online. The census will be filled out from April 1 through May 31 of 2020.

Questions will include the number of people living or staying in a home on April 1, 2020; whether the home is owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent; a phone number for a person in the home; name, sex, age, date of birth and race of each person in the home; whether each person is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin; and the relationship of each person to a central person in the home.

The 2020 Census will have some new notable changes, including write-in areas under the race question for the non-Hispanic origins. New household relationship categories to identify their relationship as same-sex and opposite-sex are also new, according to NPR.

What won't be included is a question about whether a person in the home is a citizen of the US. President Trump had pushed for this to be included, but federal courts blocked the question.

"A lot of people in our community are typically undercounted in the census, especially immigrants and people of color. In 2020, given all the anti-immigrant policies and white supremacist activity, we expect it to be worse," said JPNDC Community Organizing Director Giovanny Valencia. "But if people don't fill out the form, our community won’t get the resources it needs and deserves. For every person not counted, the state loses about $2,500 that could go towards school lunches or health insurance."

Please click here if you're interested in volunteering for JPNDC to make sure all Jamaica Plain residents are counted.

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