GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — It happens once every 10 years, the U.S. Census.
Since 1790 its been the sole way of keeping track of how many people are living in the United States, but your response does more than just keep tabs on the population.
Based on census responses, the federal government allocates over $675 billion in funds.
“We know many times that the lack of knowledge causes our people to perish,” said Calvin Henderson, President of the Pitt County NAACP. “If you’re not educated on something you don’t know whether it benefits you, or hurts you.”
Educating people is the main goal of local leaders when it comes to the 2020 Census.
“Our job is to do the best job that we can to explain it to them, and to let them know this is to benefit you not to hurt you,” said Henderson.
Leaders say participating in the census is just as important as voting.
“If you want your voice heard, you need to let us know who you are and that you exist,” said Kim Marriner, a Pitt Community College Instructor. “Particularly from marginalized groups that have been overlooked and their voices not heard.”
The form asks a series of questions including your age, race, and how many people live in your home.
It does not ask things like your social security number, or bank account information.
The census is taken by paper, in person, over the phone, and online.
If someone seems suspicious, Merriner tells WNCT folks should make sure they have the right credentials.
“You also should always call and confirm who you’re dealing with…If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t,” said Merriner.
On top of allocating funds, the census also helps with planning infrastructure projects and job creation.
The survey is mandatory for every person in the U.S. as mandated by the Constitution.
Local leaders say not responding only hurts the community.
“It’s a possibility many of the social programs that we need for many of our low income and elderly populations will be lost. We don’t need to lose anything, we need to gain,” said Henderson.
Henderson is a part of the Complete Count Committee for Pitt County.
These committees organize across the U.S. and utilize local resources to get folks in the area to respond to the Census.
Their first meeting is Wednesday, January 8th in the Pitt County Ag Center at 10 a.m.
The NAACP and other community groups are holding a meeting on Tuesday, January 7th at the Gold Post Cafe in Greenville at 6 p.m. to answer community questions about the Census.
More information on the 2020 Census can be found here.