With 2020 just three weeks away, city-parish leaders are gearing up to ensure Baton Rouge residents participate in the upcoming census.
Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has created a complete count committee, comprising city-parish department heads and other stakeholders, to work on strategies to encourage participation in the 2020 census.
Metro Councilmembers Barbara Freiberg and Matt Watson, meanwhile, are sponsoring a resolution intended to raise awareness about the upcoming census and explain to citizens why participation matters.
Census participation has been declining in recent decades across the country, which results in an area being undercounted. Baton Rouge is no exception. City-parish leaders estimate Baton Rouge could have been undercounted by as much as 20% in the 2010 census, which means the area could have missed out on a lot of federal money.
“It’s really important to get an accurate count of citizens, their income levels, their number of dependents, things like that,” says Courtney Scott, chief service officer for the city-parish. “It’s important to just make sure we let people know that this is a trusted source of information and why they need to respond.”
Scott couldn’t estimate how much money Baton Rouge may have missed out on due to being undercounted in 2010. But she says the administration will be working hard to raise awareness in early 2020 to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We want to explain that this is about getting the federal government the information they need to make sure we get the assistance we need for higher education, hospitals, things like that,” Scott says.
The U.S. Census Bureau will send out information in January. The census count officially takes place from April through June.