Hennepin County Leaders Make Push for Accurate Census Count
As people enter the city limits of Brooklyn Park, they’re greeted by a sign stating that the city has a population of 75,781. Whether that number is accurate the next time the sign is updated will depend a lot on what happens in the next 30 days.
“If we don’t make every effort to count everyone, it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Susan Brower, Minnesota’s state demographer.
At a news conference Monday morning, Hennepin County leaders joined community members to lay out their concerns about getting an accurate count in the 2020 U.S. Census.
“Here in Hennepin County, we have many, many households who are not even seeing the advertisements or the stories or the messaging in the language that they’re speaking at home,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Irene Fernando. “Additionally there’s been growing concern about where does this information go, who has access to it?”
State officials say that 85 percent of Minnesota households have completed the census, but that remaining 15 percent represents a big chunk.
“Imagine if just ten percent of households in Hennepin County are not counted,” Fernando said. “That would be missing out on more than 50,000 households. That’s over 120,000 people, our neighbors and friends.”
Reaching out to undercounted populations
Historically, experts say immigrant populations, communities of color and apartment buildings have been undercounted. Making matters worse in 2020 is the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent announcement that the count period would be shortened by a month, now ending on Sept. 30.
The message county officials wanted to convey is that everyone should take the census seriously.
“Completing your 2020 census is one of the most important and empowering acts of civic participation that you can do this year, whether you are a citizen or not,” said XP Lee of MN Census Mobilization Partnership.
With billions of dollars in federal funding on the line and the risk of losing a congressional seat, Hennepin County officials urge people to talk to their neighbors to help ensure an accurate count.
“It’s gonna take a person-to-person touch to say, ‘hey, you matter, I will fill this out for you,'” Fernando said.