August 27, 2020

The Multnomah County Commissioners are asking Congressional leaders to immediately intervene in the 2020 Census, saying that federal actions this summer to shorten the counting period will have “severe consequences’’ for counties and other local governments trying to finance vital health and human services.

The Board asked that Congress act to “secure a complete, fair and accurate 2020 Census count and affirmation of The Bureau’s prior commitment to the October 31, 2020 deadline.’’

In an Aug. 17 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Chuck Leader Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the board said that in July, the Trump administration moved to exclude undocumented people who live here from the count. Then, the U.S. Census Bureau abruptly shortened field data collection and the self-response period by one month and end on September 30, 2020. Read the : Board Letter to Congressional Leaders regarding the Census (88.32 KB)

“Together these actions could lead to severe negative budgetary consequences for state and local governments throughout the nation,’’ wrote Chair Deborah Kafoury, and Commissioners Lori Stegmann, Jessica Vega Pederson, Susheela Jayapal and Sharon Meieran.

As of today, Multnomah County's self response rate is 71.8 percent, slightly ahead of Oregon’s overall response of 67.5 percent.

But Commissioner Stegmann, who has led the efforts on behalf of the County, said our Multnomah County’s hardest to count population still needs encouragement to help make sure they get the representation they deserve. Every person who's counted in the 2020 Census brings in an estimated $4,000 to the State of Oregon over the next 10 years. This helps fund services for the most vulnerable throughout Multnomah County.

“The decennial census, as outlined in the Constitution, aims to count every United States resident each decade, is critical to county governments,’’ the Board said in its letter. “With nearly a trillion dollars in federal funding being apportioned each year based on Census results, an accurate, complete count is crucial to county governments and their residents. 

“Funding for health care, economic development, infrastructure, education and other critical county responsibilities are all informed by Census results. Census counts are also increasingly critical to data-driven businesses and research efforts. 

“Without an accurate and complete count, counties across the country, and our residents, will not have access to the services we critically need.”

Allowing enough time for the Census Bureau’s to follow up with those who have not responded is “crucial to reaching households that have been historically undercounted and are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, halting counting operations early will disproportionately affect the quality of life and resources for county constituents for the next decade as well as the effectiveness of county officials to execute their responsibilities, the letter said.

In addition, Commissioners said they are working to remind the community that the Census data is used to determine funding for:

  • Medicaid

  • SNAP/WIC

  • Free School Lunch/Breakfast

  • Special Education Grants

  • Federal Pell Grants

  • Section 8 Housing

  •  Low-Income Energy Assistance

“Responding to the 2020 Census affects funding for our communities, planning for the future, and our representation in government,’’ said Commissioner Stegmann. “Participating in the count is fast, easy, and safe, but we need people — and Congress — to act now.”

Fill out the 2020 Census now by visiting 2020census.gov or by calling (844) 330-2020.