Time Is Running Out to Participate in the U.S. 2020 Census

With the help of local organizations like Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE) the City of Boston is making a final push to get an accurate census count ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline. 

“This once-in-a-decade opportunity will determine the amount of elected representatives Boston will have, how legislative districts will be formed, and the amount of federal funding we will receive for crucial services and programs for the next 10 years,” said Mayor Martin Walsh last week. “Only 57.4 percent of Boston’s households have self-responded. We are now less than two weeks away from the last day to be counted (September 30). This is an urgent call to all of Boston’s communities to make sure they’ve completed the U.S. 2020 Census. On this day and throughout the month of September.”

Mayor Walsh reminded residents that they can fill out the 2020 Census online or by phone, and either of these options is available in 13 languages. 

“If you already have done so, make sure to ask your friends, family, and networks to do the same,” he said. “Spread the message digitally. Use the city’s outreach toolkit to amplify that responding is not only crucial, but it is also quick, easy, and confidential.”

Walsh is also encouraging residents to volunteer to census phone banks with the City of Boston. “We are hosting daily phone banks to reach out and encourage households in some of our lowest response neighborhoods,” said Walsh. 

For all Boston-related Census information and how to help Walsh said to visit the city’s “Boston Counts 2020” website at www.boston.gov/departments/intergovernmental-relations/boston-counts-2020. 

Helping the city through a Rapid Response Grant to support the 2020 Census from the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund (MCEF) is NUBE. 

NUBE has been using the grant money for more outreach and education ahead of Sept. 30. . 

The grants by the MCEF went to some of the hardest to count communities in Massachusetts as well as communities that were among those hit the hardest by the global COVID-19 pandemic like Eastie, 

“We are living through an unprecedented time. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic at the starting moment of the 2020 census we know now more than ever that a full and accurate census count is facing serious challenges,” said Chair of MCEF Alexie Torres. “MCEF has joined with our national funding partners in seeing a need for additional resources to our hardest to count communities.”

Founded in 2008, NUBE is an organization that mentors community leaders who support social transformation and shifting political power. NUBE’s leaders organize and advocate for inclusive democratic processes and just public policies to create a vibrant economy and environment for all East Boston.

NUBE’s work is guided by a commitment to developing a more just, understanding, and sustainable neighborhood.  NUBE believes that leaders, who live its values and intentionally engage in social, economic, and political life, will help create alternative systems and structures that promote social transformation. 

Since being created NUBE has Increased voter turnout 10-15 percent in recent elections in precincts with a high density of people of color. 

Having an accurate 2020 Census count fits right into NUBE’s mission to transform the lives and amplify the voices of Eastie residents who have been excluded from prosperity by an inequitable economic system. 

This year the United States will conduct its decennial census. In Boston there’s been a huge push to ensure a fair and complete count in the 2020 U.S. Census because it determines everything from representation in Congress, to federal funds for schools, affordable housing, infrastructure and health care programs.

MCEF used real-time census response rate data and knowledge of the impacts of the pandemic to make rapid-response grants between $500 to $5,000 for additional outreach activities. Organizations in these regions, who work with hard-to-count populations including communities of color,  are struggling to increase Census response rates while simultaneously responding to communities’ needs, which have been increasing in the wake of COVID-19. 

Historically, certain populations are “hard-to-count” in the census. Urban and rural areas with large low-income populations, people of color, immigrants, non-English speakers, migrant workers, ex-offenders, young children, the elderly, those who are disabled, renters, the homeless, and those living in mobile homes or multi-unit residences are historically hard-to-count. 

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