The City is planning for the possibility of the Census 2020 effort being extended to Oct. 31 – as it was originally planned for – but operating under the possibility that a federal court ruling could put an end to the effort as early as today, Sept. 30.
The Census has been a conglomeration of moving dates since COVID-19 hit, originally scheduled to be done in July, but extended to Oct. 31 due to the pandemic. However, over the summer, the federal government moved the finish date back to Sept. 30 instead. Several states had protested that in court, and California federal judge did restore the extension to Oct. 31. However, that is still being played out in court this week, and it’s left City Clerk Sergio Cornelio and his team planning for either outcome.
“We are expecting to hear the ruling on this Wednesday or Thursday maybe,” he said on Monday. “I’m currently preparing as if there’s an extension. I’m preparing literature and I’m working with community groups to keep it going…We’re planning our next steps if there is an extension, but if there isn’t, then Sept. 30 will be the last chance to get people to fill it out.”
For Everett and many surrounding communities, the alarm went off in the summer as numbers were very low and looked as if the official population would actually decline on paper – even though the actual population is much higher than the last Census 10 years ago, which was also artificially low due to low participation.
Cornelio said in the last month, there has been a tremendous effort, and Census enumerators going door to door and going out in the community have also helped, plus the fact that it is the first time in history one can fill out the Census online. The City Hall workforce spent most of one day last month dropping literature on every doorstep in the City, and the community groups like the Everett Haitian Community Center (EHCC), La Communidad and LUMA have also bolstered the effort in communities where English is a second language.
Right now, Cornelio said the City’s participation rate is approaching 60 percent, which is consistent with what took place 10 years ago. That would likely mean the City wouldn’t lose population in the final count. Losing population has a number of consequences. Cornelio estimated that each person counted accounts for $2,400 in federal funding per year, or $24,000 over a 10-year period. That money goes to schools, hospitals, roads/sidewalks, and public safety – but is lost if one isn’t counted.
With another month to work at the pace the Census Committee is going now, Cornelio said he expects they can eclipse the last count in 2010. That has been the goal all along, to get Everett’s official number closer to the actual number, but that effort has been ham-strung severely by COVID-19.
“Things are going well, but it’s still a little less than our goal,” he said. “If we can get that extra month, I think we can surpass what we did 10 years ago. We’re approaching our numbers from 10 years ago, but we want to surpass that. We’re at around 60 percent of resident households participating. We’re ready for anything.”
One of the greatest helps, he said, has been the arrival of the official Census enumerators that go door-to-door and hit up community events. He said one example of that is enumerators went to the ChromeBook distributions at the Keverian School last week.
“They were able to sign up 12 families in a couple of hours while we were there,” he said. “Our numbers will increase substantially if we can reach people face-to-face like that…That’s really what’s been helping increase our numbers over the last six weeks or so.”
Cornelio encouraged everyone to take time today, Sept. 30, to fill out the Census if they haven’t done so already. It is officially the last day, even though many are planning hopefully for the extension.
In any case, he said to treat Sept. 30 as the end.
“We really need this for the City,” he said. “We only get one chance every 10 years.”