Although the 2020 U.S. Census tally doesn’t begin until next April, Columbus and Franklin County officials are reaching out to people in advance in order to get the most accurate headcount.

Residents can expect to see workers and volunteers at local festivals and other public gatherings over the next 15 months to assist in providing information sought by the U.S. Census Bureau, according to Tyler Lowry, spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.

The 2020 Census Complete Count Committee, co-chaired by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and county Commissioner Kevin Boyce, is composed of 30 subcommittees represented by civic, faith-based and public-school groups.

“Our goal is just to ensure everyone gets counted,” Lowry said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Doug Murray, director of community affairs for Ginther’s office, said the committees are focused on “hard-count communities,” or those with a large number of low-income families, children up to age 5, racial and ethnic minorities, senior citizens and immigrants.

Wedgewood, a neighborhood in west Columbus, is one example of a community with high Somali and English-as-a-second-language populations that has a low census response rate, Murray said.

He said the committees and their members would work through the end of August 2020, when the federal government is expected to wrap up its latest 10-year count.

The government, for the first time, is making a concentrated effort to get citizens to provide census data online, which is going to be a challenge, Murray said.

“We are concerned about people’s access to computers and the internet,” he said.

Therefore, local officials will call on libraries to offer people help getting access to computers, he said.

However, online is not the only way people can submit census data, Murray said. Residents may still send in information via mail or by phone. In the final step, census workers will knock on doors.

An accurate count is important, Murray said, because $675 billion in federal money is distributed to state, local and county governments based on those figures. Also, updated information is used to form legislative districts, he said.

Many needy families rely on accurate census data because social-service agencies that receive federal money could be underfunded and people might not get the resources they need without an accurate population count, Murray said.

Responding to the census is mandated by the U.S. law but Murray said he is unaware of anyone who has faced criminal charges in recent memory for refusing to submit data or for providing false information.

Lowry said myriad reasons might account for people not filling out the form or providing information.

“I think people just don’t know much about the census,” Lowry said. “They might not know it’s required in the (U.S.) Constitution. They might not know what it’s used for. They might not know how that information is shared and not shared among federal agencies.”

For more information, go to columbus.gov/columbuscounts.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary

Subcommittees

The following subcommittees have been established for the Columbus and Franklin County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee:

Business and Workforce

Alex Fischer, CEO, the Columbus Partnership

Communications and Media

Tyler Lowry, director of public affairs, Franklin County Board of Commissioners

Kimber Perfect, deputy chief of staff for communications, Office of the Mayor

Youth Serving Organizations

Rebecca Asmo, CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus

Children Ages 0-5

Jane Leach, executive director, FutureReady Columbus

Mental Health Services

Organizations

TBD

Human Services Organizations

Lisa Courtice, CEO, United Way of Central Ohio

Data, Maps and Technology

Shoreh Elhami, citywide GIS manager, Columbus Department of Technology

Education (Preschool-Grade 12)

Dr. Talisa Dixon, superintendent, Columbus City Schools

Education (Post-Secondary)

Dr. Ann McDaniel, senior VP for student life, Ohio State University

Justice-Involved

Tearicka Cradle, Restoration Academy coordinator, Columbus Civil Service Commission

Kysten Palmore, task-force coordinator, Franklin County Reentry Task Force

Faith-Based

Kevin Dudley, senior adviser for community development, Catalyst Columbus

Government

Aaron Schill, director of regional data and mapping, MORPC

Group Quarters

Penny Perry-Balonier, chief deputy, Franklin County Sheriff's Office

Adult Homelessness

Michelle Heritage, CEO, Community Shelter Board

Youth Homelessness

Becky Westerfelt, executive director, Huckleberry House

Immigrant

Angie Plummer, executive director, Community Refugee and Immigration Services

Refugee and Asylum Seekers

Nadia Kasvin, director, US Together

African Immigrants

Dr. Rosaire Ifedi, associate professor of education, Ashland University

Latino/Hispanic

Lilly Cavanaugh, executive director, Ohio Latino Affairs Commission

Elizabeth Martinez, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio

Asian American

Shyam Rajadhyaksha, president, Asian American Commerce Group

African American

Nana Watson, president, Columbus NAACP

LGBTQ

AJ Casey, executive director, Stonewall Columbus

Senior Citizens

Cindy Farson, director, Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging

Michelle Missler, director, Franklin County Office on Aging

Nonhomeowners

Charles Hillman, CEO, Central Ohio Metropolitan Housing Authority

Veterans

Zane Jones, veteran-services coordinator, Columbus Department of Human Resources

Philanthropic

TBD

Individuals with Disabilities

Jed Morrison, CEO, Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities

Organized Labor

Mark Fluharty, executive director, AFL-CIO Central Ohio Labor Council

Transportation

Joanna Pinkerton, president and CEO, Central Ohio Transit Authority

Elected Officials

Shannon Hardin, president, Columbus City Council