LV organizations rally to gather more census responses before the deadline

Written by on September 24, 2020

 LV organizations rally to gather more census responses before the deadline

By Genesis Ortega

September 24, 2020

Shown is an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident, in Glenside, Pa., Thursday, March 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

UPDATE: The 2020 census deadline has now been extended to Oct 5. Click HERE to take the census.

The census results will decide how much federal funding municipalities get for the next decade. And as WLVR’s Genesis Ortega reports, organizations across the Lehigh Valley have come together to increase responses in these final days.

Faces International is a Lehigh Valley marketing agency that has partnered with the Census Bureau to help increase responses. COO Kevin Greene says since the onset of the pandemic they’ve been focusing on reaching families with students in the Allentown School District. 

“Schools became meal sites for pick up. So we were showing up to school, handing out information, educating parents, trying to get them to fill it out there as much as we possibly could,” Greene explained.

Greene says as the deadline approaches, connecting with families online is key to getting people to take the census.

“Everybody’s digital. Parents have been accustomed to digital communication because of our world.” 

He also cautioned that many school services could be hurt by an undercount. And this includes access to reduced and free lunches and after-school programs – which residents in low-income communities of Allentown may rely on.

Other Lehigh Valley organization leaders say getting census responses from the city’s immigrant communities may be essential. 

Some immigrants have concerns that their confidential census answers could be used against them. Yamelisa Taveras is director of Allentown’s Unidos Foundation, which works to improve quality of life in underserved communities across the Valley. 

“It’s understanding the immigrant story and how it’s so easy to lose trust in those that are supposed to be protecting you. We see that every day,” Taveras said.

Unidos has launched an aggressive bilingual effort to overcome distrust of the census. 

Taveras says, “The reality is that there is a lot of mistrust. I think as we continue to take charge and educate ourselves, and then make it an intentional education of our community, we’ll be able to begin to shift some of that mistrust culture that continues to exist.”

All Allentown residents, including undocumented people, are supposed to respond to the census. But Tavaras says it may take years for some communities to trust the government. 

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