By Mary Jo Coulehan
Pagosa Springs Area
Chamber of Commerce
It would have been a scary thought if the 2020 census ended at its regularly scheduled date of July 31. Due to activities surrounding the pandemic, the 2020 census count was extended until Sept. 30. This is the last week for you to get counted in Archuleta County and to help our community. As of the writing of this article, the Archuleta County self-response rate was 42.3 percent. This figure is still under the 2010 response rate of 42.7 percent and well under the current state response rate of 69.3 percent.
The census is safe, secure and is critically important to funding that comes to our community. For example, the CARES funding that has come to our community is based on population. If we underreport, then less money is extended to our community which in turn helps our businesses and nonprofit organizations. Less money for school lunch programs, less money for nonprofit assistance for mental health and seniors, less money for benefit programs such as Medicaid, SNAP and CHIP. Don’t forget our roads — less money for highway planning and repairs. These are programs that affect all of us. Wouldn’t you want to help bring money into our community to assist with the projects that keeps us healthy and functioning?
I hear people say the census isn’t safe and data could be compromised. The data is kept within the Census Bureau and used only to produce statistics. All federal, state and local governmental agencies cannot access individual responses. The information cannot be used by the government in any legal proceedings or released through a court order. The citizenship question is not on the survey. The census will take about 10 minutes to complete. It will ask how many in your household. This number should include people (children, too) who usually live in your household. If you are a renter that rents out a room in a house, the owner should be established as “Person 1” and everyone else living there would be considered part of the household. Don’t forget the children and seniors that live with you — count them.
If you need assistance filling out the census, contact the Chamber of Commerce and we will work with the regional census organization to have an enumerator come to your house to assist you. You can also go to the library to access a computer. While the staff there cannot assist you in completing the census, they can get you to the website where online completion is the fastest and easiest way to complete the census.
You can fill out the census online at www.2020census.gov from your computer and smartphone. You can also simply call (844) 330-2020. Please, Archuleta County residents, if you have not filled out the 2020 census, do so before Sept. 30. We need you to be counted and a part of this community no matter your political persuasion. We need all the assistance we can get for all of the programs that benefit our community.