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Be Counted: All Coloradans Urged to Participate in the 2020 Census

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The 2020 census is well underway, and AARP is urging people who haven’t participated to do their part to ensure ongoing funding for vital programs that residents of all ages rely on.

The once-a-decade population count is used to redraw political lines and determine state and federal spending on nutrition services, health programs and other supports. It collects basic information such as age, sex, race and marital status.

Older Coloradans want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, and participating in the census could increase the likelihood of that happening, said Angela Cortez, AARP Colorado census outreach coordinator.

“Census data will be used for a decade to determine where to place parks, hospitals, roads and businesses,” Cortez said. “It will fund livable-community projects, including mass transit options.”

Based on 2010 census numbers, Colorado received more than $13 billion in federal funding in fiscal 2016 through programs such as Medicare and low-income housing loans, according to a George Washington University analysis.

The state’s population is nearly 5.8 million, up from 5 million in 2010, census data shows. Colorado gets more than one-fourth of its budget from federal funding.

“The census is about so much more than a population count,” Gov. Jared Polis (D) said in a statement. “It’s also about making sure our state gets the resources it needs to support our communities and plan for the future.”

Individuals have until the fall to respond online, at my2020census.gov; by phone, at 844-330-2020; or by mail, though the deadline may change due to the coronavirus outbreak. The timing is also uncertain as to when census takers will visit the homes of those who haven’t replied.

The U.S. Census Bureau has also sent out via text and email a voluntary COVID-19 survey to gather information on employment status, housing and other data.

Watch out for census fraud

AARP Colorado is especially encouraging members of minority communities, which have been historically undercounted, to act.

AARP outreach efforts have included advertisements on Spanish-language radio stations emphasizing that it is safe to give information for the census.

Many people think the survey includes a citizenship question, which immigrant rights advocates say has kept some individuals from responding. But the survey has no such question, and the Census Bureau is not allowed to share any identifiable information collected with other government agencies.

The census also presents an opportunity for fraud, so it’s important to be vigilant. Scammers try to get people to click on fake website links, and people have reported counterfeit mailings using the word “census.”

To protect yourself, the Census Bureau recommends verifying the identity of anyone visiting your home to collect information.

Census takers will have valid ID badges with a photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. They will never ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, or seek money or donations.

If you want to confirm the identity of a worker or you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. Learn more at 2020census.gov.

Cynthia Pasquale is a writer living in Denver.

More on the 2020 Census

5 Ways to Avoid Census Scams

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