Your San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has officially partnered with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County to ensure we get a complete count of our residents on the 2020 U.S. Census. On Monday, a press conference was held to mark one year until the 2020 census, and Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez, who was appointed to serve on the steering committee, attended to show the commitment of the business community.
Attendees heard from a panel of community leaders spearheading the effort, which will consist of community-wide engagement to identify a strategy to educate and inform San Antonio residents on the importance of a complete count. Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff explained why the 2020 U.S. Census matters to San Antonio and the importance of a complete count. Co-Chairs Celina Pena, Chief Advancement Officer for LiftFund, and Rebecca Q. Cedillo, Community Impact Officer for University Health System, presented the structure and purpose of the Complete Count Committee and how we can ensure equitable outreach, targeting populations at risk of being undercounted. Dennis Ray Johnson, U.S. Census Bureau Deputy Regional Director for the Denver Region/Dallas Regional Census Center, talked about the U.S. Census’ operations and outreach efforts. Other speakers included Berta S. Rodriguez, City of San Antonio Census Administrator, and Linda Rivas, Bexar County Census Liaison.
The 2020 U.S. Census will determine hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for San Antonio as well as apportionment of House of Representative seats in December 2020. The U.S. Census determines distribution of over $600 billion federal funds to states and localities for hospitals and healthcare, fire and police departments; roads and highways; and schools.
Texans have historically been undercounted in the U.S. Census. In Texas, approximately 25 percent of the current population (over 6 million people) live in hard-to-count neighborhoods and are at risk of being undercounted according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hard-to-count (HTC) population characteristics include Latino, African American, low income, children under five, immigrants/refugees, low English proficiency, low computer access/proficiency, and rural residents.
In 2020 the Census bureau will focus on asking residents to self-respond either online, by phone or by mail. Fewer enumerators will be going door-to-door, which will make reaching the HTC more challenging. In 2020, it is estimated that 24 percent of San Antonio residents will live in HTC census tracts and are likely to not self-respond.
According to the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, an undercount of Texas’ population by even 1 percent in 2020 could result in a $300 million loss of federal funding, burdening an already tight state budget. The loss in federal funds means money not spent on healthcare, education, transportation infrastructure and in the long run funds not spent on Texas jobs. In 2010, San Antonio’s participation rate was only 73 percent. We must ensure this participation rate increases in 2020.
This fall, the Chamber will launch a website focused on engaging and education the San Antonio community on the importance of self-responding for the 2020 U.S. Census.