By: Commissioner Michael Mena
As we navigate through the challenging issues presented by this unprecedented global pandemic, I want to take a moment to address what may seem like a much more mundane topic: the 2020 U.S. Census. Our first U.S. Census in 1790 was managed under the direction of then Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson. And once a decade since then – through world wars, the great depression, and other significant challenges to society – Americans have come together to participate in the constitutionally mandated decennial Census. Why is the Census so important to us in Coral Gables?
The data collected in the Census will help your federal tax dollars stay in our community and ensure our local interests are properly represented. Specifically, the Census will inform the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds to states and communities each year. As our community has grown, we require more infrastructure, better programs in our schools and educational facilities, and increased funding for our healthcare institutions. By filling out the Census you are providing data used in funding hospitals, clinics, and emergency services. An accurate count helps health officials and first responders identify who is at risk and the resources needed to protect our community. It even helps health providers predict the spread of disease through communities with children or elderly people.
The most recent illustration of the significant impact of the Census on federal funding has been the distribution of nearly $2 trillion in relief to individuals and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by the federal government after passing the CARES Act. These critical funds from the CARES Act were distributed to states and counties based on population, and that population was determined by the most recent U.S. Census.
Additionally, state and local officials use decennial Census results to help redraw congressional, state, and local district boundaries to contain roughly equal numbers of people to ensure that each person’s voting power is close to equal. Indeed, the Constitutional basis for conducting the decennial Census is to reapportion the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states. Whatever your political affiliation or beliefs, as local communities we all benefit from representation in Congress that accurately reflects the size of our community.
As the U.S. Census Bureau conducts the 2020 Census, we are relying on you to “Make Coral Gables Count!” In March, each household should have received an invitation from the Census Bureau to participate in the Census. If you have completed the Census, thank you! If you have not, please use this time at home to complete the questionnaire online at www.my2020census.gov. It only takes a few minutes to complete. So please, if you are taking the time to read this communication, stop what you are doing and take a few minutes to complete the Census. Rest assured that your information is used only to provide statistics and that any information you provide is strictly confidential and cannot be used against you or anyone in your household by any government agency or court.
To date, only about 61% of Coral Gables residents have completed the Census. While that is above the National participation rate of 58.7%, it is still trailing behind many cities and towns in Miami-Dade County, including Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Miami Shores, and Miami Lakes. Indeed, Palmetto Bay is currently at 71.9%. In short, we still have work to do and we need your help. If you need additional information, please visit the City’s website at www.CoralGables.com/Census.