Several months ago, Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS) received a grant from the U.S. Census to assist in its efforts to ensure an accurate count in 2020 and especially focused on hard-to-reach populations. “The entire state of the 2020 Census is being challenged by the current public health crisis,” said Valerie Parker Callahan, Director of Planning and Development at GLSS. “Much of the most important outreach is often done by one-on-one visits to residences which have not responded by other means, which is not possible right now.” Most people will respond on line at www.2020census.gov, by phone, or by filling out a form, which was mailed to some households unlikely to respond via the Internet. Everyone should have received at least one invitation by mail to respond on line and perhaps a reminder over the course of the past few months.
Groups that may have difficulty responding include the homeless and non-English-speaking populations. “The census has provided outreach materials in numerous languages and geared towards migrant workers, homeless people, and other hard-to-reach groups,” Parker Callahan notes. “Our original outreach strategy was to get the word out through affordable housing sites, health center, and senior centers—community pulse-points where people naturally gather,” she said. “With our access severely curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are developing some creative alternative strategies.”
“The census only happens once every 10 years, so it is critical for the long-term well-being of our community that everyone, including undocumented residents, respond,” said Parker Callahan. “Especially right now, when so much funding could be jeopardized by the current pandemic, an accurate census is more important than ever.”