Millions in federal funds used to help residents, businesses
COVINGTON, Ky. - Residents and businesses in the City of Covington could stand to lose almost $22 million over the next 10 years if the 2020 Census is no more successful than the 2010 Census in making sure every Covington resident is counted, City officials say.
Some 13 percent of Covington’s budget comes from direct federal funding that’s allocated based on population counts, the City’s Neighborhood Services director, Ken Smith, said today during a discussion of the coming census at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Covington Business Council.
What’s that money used for?
Everything from emergency home repairs to down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers to first-year rent help for small businesses to park renovation and road repair and neighborhood-specific police patrols.
In 2010, Census officials say many areas of Covington were undercounted by as much as 30 percent. If the same thing happens in 2020, the City stands to lose out on $2.16 million a year in federal funding, or about $720,000 for every 10 percent of undercount, Smith said.
“And it will be 10 years before we could get a recount,” he said.
Covington’s challenge is that it has high levels of historically hard-to-count populations: renters, students, senior citizens, children under 5, transients, immigrants, low-income families and racial and ethnic minorities.
“Ironically, these folks need services that are paid for by the very money we don’t get if we don’t count them,” Smith said.
Smith joined a variety of Census and local business officials at the CBC luncheon to stress the need for an energetic approach to the count, which starts April 1, 2020 ... and for every resident to respond to the Census questionnaire.
For the first time, people will be able to fill out the form on-line as well as on paper and by phone, officials said.
The goal of the Census, deputy regional director Philip Lutz said, “is to count every one, only once, and in the right place.”
Toward that end, communities across the country - including Covington - have created Complete Count Committees to find creative ways to “educate and motivate” people about the need to be counted.
|The City’s Ken Smith with just one of the overhead slides talking about how Covington uses the millions in federal funds it receives.
Census data is used not only to allocate $675 billion in federal money but also to set Congressional representation. It’s also used by businesses to help decide where to locate and create jobs.
Covington’s committee - which includes many local partners - is working on setting up events related to the Census. The Census bureau itself is looking to hire thousands of part-time, temporary census takers in this area, with attractions being flexible hours and decent pay. To apply online, go to www.2020census.gov/jobs
U.S. Census partnership specialist Erin Peabody told the Covington crowd that the bureau is working hard to overcome apathy and distrust among the public about how the information is collected and used.
“We cannot share this information with anyone - even other federal agencies,” she stressed. “We would go to jail for it.”
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