Cape Cod’s future relies on an accurate census count
The 2020 United States Census Day is approaching. Communities across the nation are coordinating in order to ensure an accurate, complete count of our population. With a diversifying and growing population, it is a daunting yet critically important task.
The necessity of a complete and accurate count cannot be overstated. Data collected through the census is used to determine the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds every year to state and local governments. Cape Cod communities depend on these federal resources – this is funding needed to support our schools, build our roads and other critical infrastructure, support our health care systems, administer housing programs, inform planning decisions, and design and implement our public safety and emergency preparedness programs.
The groundwork began last year. Understanding that our community must work collaboratively to ensure all residents are correctly counted, the Cape Cod Commission, Town of Barnstable, and Barnstable County partnered to establish the Cape Cod Complete Count Committee. The Complete Count Committee is supported by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and is a volunteer advisory committee representing a broad cross-section of Cape residents, leaders and organizations, bringing together those best suited to reach traditionally hard-to-count populations. On Cape Cod, that includes older adults and snowbirds, immigrant communities and people who speak English as a second language, homeless and low-income individuals, people living in group quarters, and renters and young adults.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that approximately 23% of Massachusetts’ current population, more than 1.5 million people, live in hard to count neighborhoods. These individuals may be difficult to locate, such as the homeless population, or difficult to contact, in cases where English is not their primary language.
The goal of Cape Cod’s Complete Count Committee is to facilitate partnerships with a comprehensive range of community leaders to ensure that the importance, safety, and necessity of responding to the 2020 Census is broadly recognized. The U.S. Census provides resources for organizations that work directly with hard-to-count populations to increase awareness and response rates on Cape Cod.
Ensuring that Cape Cod’s population is counted correctly and completely is critical to the Cape economy. Government, businesses, and non-profit organizations in our communities rely on the data that the census questions produce to make important decisions. Without a complete count, Cape Cod risks losing critical funding and resources necessary to sustain our region for the next decade. Let’s work together to ensure an accurate count for our region and a resilient future for Cape Cod.
Written by the co-chairs of the Cape Cod Complete Count Committee: Mark Ells, Barnstable Town Manager, Jack Yunits, Barnstable County Administrator, and Kristy Senatori, Cape Cod Commission Executive Director.