Census 2020 is coming beginning in mid-March. Done every 10 years, the census is a count of everyone living in the United States. It is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency.
Harford County organizations, led by Harford County Government, are working hard to make sure everyone is aware of the census and what it means to them and urging citizens to complete it so Harford receives as much federal funding as is available. In addition to federal funding, census data is also used as the basis for political representation.
“It’s important for everyone in Harford County to be counted, it’s easy, and it’s safe,” County Executive Barry Glassman said. “Because federal funding is based on our population, the more residents who are counted, the more money will be allocated for social services, education, public safety and other resources that improve our quality of life.”
Here’s what you need to know about the census:
When is the census?
Postcards will be mailed to every household in Harford County between March 12 and 20 and citizens should receive them within a few days.
How does it work?
Those postcards will have the official census logo, a website address, and a personal census ID number so residents can respond online. Online is the easiest way to complete the census, and anyone without a computer can use a smartphone or go to one of the 11 branches of the Harford County Public Library or Harford County activity centers for access.
The postcard will also have information about paper forms and how to get help by phone.
Census canvassers will be at various community events with computer tablets to help folks respond online.
What does the census ask?
The number of people living or staying in your home on April 1, 2020, and related questions.
What is not asked?
Your citizenship, social security number or credit card or bank account numbers.
What happens with the information?
By law, answers are anonymous and the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information, including to other government agencies.
What is done with the information?
The data received is used to determine how much funding Harford County gets from the federal government to be used locally for education, roads, public safety, services for seniors, children’s health insurance, addiction treatment and prevention, and other resources.
In Harford County, about $1,820 in federal funding is allocated for each resident per year, based on census data.
What was Harford’s response rate in 2010?
81 percent. Harford’s population at the time was 244,826.
That’s good, right?
Yes, but it still means millions of dollars in federal funds were left on the table. If 20 percent of the population goes uncounted in 2020, Harford County will lose $93 million in federal funding per year. The more people who are counted, the more funding we will receive.
Census data also determines the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and to draw congressional, state and local legislative districts.
When will census figures be available?
Census data will be delivered to Congress and the president in December by the Census Bureau and shared with local jurisdictions in the spring of 2021.
What is the local government’s role?
Local Departments of Planning and Zoning are responsible for raising awareness about the census and why it matters – especially among hard-to-count populations, which are the ones most in need of federal funding.
Harford County has assembled a Complete Count Committee made up of community members and local agencies, including public schools, libraries, Office on Aging, Community Services, Chamber of Commerce, Social Services, Health Department, municipalities and faith-based leaders. Members are helping to spread the word in hard-to-count communities. Look for them at local events.
Harford County received grant funding for mobile devices to help folks fill out the form online, and for marketing, including social media, videos, promotional items, and billboards along Route 40 and on Harford Transit LINK buses, focused on hard-to-count populations.
Harford County contributed funding toward a regional radio ad campaign through the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. The campaign is focused on urban, Spanish-speaking and faith-based populations.
How can the public help?
Talk to five people in your community about the census and why it matters. Visit the county website www.harfordcountymd.gov/Census2020 and/or apply for a job as a census worker at https://www.census.gov/jobs.