As Chairman of the Clay County Board of County Commissioners, I have a great interest in helping to ensure all Clay County households are counted in the 2020 Census. An accurate count and location of households is critical to help state and local governments better meet the needs of their residents and to plan for future needs. Responding to the Census is the easiest way to make government work for you by informing your leaders of who you are and what you need.
Every Clay County resident should be counted. Population undercounts in Florida counties could shift badly needed funds to other large population states. Undercounts can also result in less representation in Congress making it harder to get our voices heard nationally. Clay County residents have this once in a decade opportunity to stand up and be counted. There is more at stake than ever, with the increasing risk of an undercount due to COVID-19. The funding provided to local governments and the private sector will be critical as our communities reopen and recover.
Census population counts will determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed annually for the next 10 years. This will make a huge impact in Clay County by funding critical programs such as Medicare, Head Start, mental health services, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, among many others. Census data is also used to allocate federal funding for education and school lunches, transportation and land use planning, forecasting future housing needs, upgrading healthcare and emergency services, and budget planning for government at all levels. Census numbers can also spur job growth and community development by helping industries locate potential markets and guide decisions on expansion and relocation to better meet demand and more effectively produce the needed supply of products and materials.
The Census data collected this year will also guide federal spending for critical public health and safety services and emergency preparedness planning that can make us stronger and more resilient in the future. Federal spending for these programs and services is based on population and need.
· Medical and scientific research
· Planning for hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and the location of other health services
· Assessing the potential for spread of communicable diseases
· Planning health and educational services for people with disabilities
· Designing public safety strategies
· Estimating the numbers of people displaced by natural disasters
· Creating maps to speed emergency services to households in need of assistance
· Designing facilities for people with disabilities, the elderly or children
· Directing funds for services for people in poverty
· Developing assistance programs for low-income families
· Delivering goods and services to local markets
· Developing adult education programs
· Determining areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans
· Attracting new businesses to state and local areas
As you can see from the list above, responding to the Census is even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Responding to the Census is also easier than ever with 2020 marking the first time households were invited to respond online- even on mobile devices. It takes only 10 minutes to respond, but the benefits to our County will last for 10 years. The Census response rate in Clay County has already reached 54.8 percent, almost 6 points higher than the rest of the State. If you have already responded, I thank you. If you haven’t yet responded, there is still time. Remember, every American has the constitutional responsibility to respond to the Census. Your answers will make our County safer and stronger so please visit https://my2020census.gov/ and complete the questionnaire. Clay County is the best county in Florida, let’s keep it that way and respond to the 2020 Census.
Chairman Gayward Hendry