Guest Column: The U.S. Census form is your friend

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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No Alabama residents should be afraid of completing their U.S. 2020 Census form. In fact, they should be excited to complete the form because it will lead to Alabama getting its fair share of $675 billion in federal funding.

Additionally, an accurate count means fair representation in the U.S. Congress and the Alabama Legislature, along with more jobs for yourself and your neighbors.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, your information cannot be shared with any other government agency or any individual. Therefore, by reporting that there are people in your household who are not on your lease or approved to live there, it will not affect you or any benefits that you currently receive or those you will receive in the future.

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However, if you have additional family or friends living with you because your community ran out of Section 8 vouchers or other housing assistance, by reporting their presence in the community, you actually could help them get their own home because now the government knows the need is there. Therefore, including them on your U.S. Census form could be the equivalent of making a down payment for them on their next place of residence.

Too often we cheat ourselves out of benefits because we do not understand the process or the potential positive outcomes that can occur. We as Alabamians cannot afford to lose out on our fair share of $675 billion over the next 10 years, because we refused to answer questions accurately on our U.S. Census form.

An accurate U.S. Census count will lead to less crowded schools with more teachers, more money for roads and public transportation, and more federal benefits for residents, such as: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Child’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI), Medicaid, and Head Start – just to name a few.

Additionally, if you are in the United States illegally, you still need to fill out the U.S. Census form; especially, since it is likely that some of your children are legal residents of the United States and the government needs to know you are here in order to fund schools and special programs for your family, such as English as a Second Language programs.

The information cannot and will not be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

This count means everything to Alabama and it could mean everything to you. So, let’s get counted Alabama!

— Kirsten J. Barnes is the communications director for the Alabama Senate Minority Leader and Caucus. She holds degrees in journalism from Alabama State University and The University of Alabama, and was previously a reporter and editor for the Montgomery Advertiser and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, among others.