Across our television screens and on billboards throughout the city announcements about that the 2010 Census are springing up. The campaign for census participation is one of the biggest in the history of the census. Why? Because there is a significant effort underway to make sure that those of us who have not been counted in the past are included in this year’s census count. The mantra, “Be Counted!” attests to this central focus of the 2010 Census campaign.
Recognizing that renters are among those who have been undercounted in the past, MTO has engaged the 2010 Census as a Count-Me-In partner. Count-Me-In is a campaign funded by ten of Illinois’ leading philanthropies, including The Boeing Company, the Chicago Bar Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Steans Family Foundation, and Woods Fund of Chicago. In addition, LISC/Chicago is supporting five New Community Program lead agencies in this effort. The Joyce Foundation has awarded separate grants to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, the Illinois League of Women Voters, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and Citizens Advocacy Center for census related work in Illinois.
An accurate census count is imperative to establishing benchmarks in our communities to guide government funds. When decisions are made regarding how many subsidized housing vouchers a community should receive, census numbers are consulted to determine levels of need. When decisions are made around where to place subsidized and affordable housing, census numbers determine which communities benefit. Everything from the amount of money allocated to fix potholes in the street to the funds allocated to benefit your local schools is determined, in part, by census numbers. If a community is undercounted, that community will lose funding and representation for years to come. Undercounts can mean the difference between your community flourishing and your community wasting away.
Beginning in March, households across the country will begin receiving their census forms. Ten short questions to help determine the future. This is your chance to say, “I matter!” Step up and BE COUNTED. MTO is hosting a raffle for all renters who attend an MTO meeting in March and do one of the following: bring a sealed envelope with your census forms enclosed that you are preparing to mail, bring a photo-copy of a sealed envelope that you have already mailed or bring your forms to fill out at a meeting. Any of these activities will earn you a raffle ticket – making you eligible to win one of three cash prizes – $300/first prize, $150/second prize, $50/third prize. Raffle winners will be announced at the April Community Congress meeting. Remember, your census responses are completely confidential. If you have any questions regarding the census, consult the 2010 Census website at: www.2010.census.gov.