Making Mountain Village and San Miguel County count in the Census

Every 10 years the federal government conducts a count of every single living person in the United States and the 2020 Census is now in full swing.

The census is officially April 1, 2020, but in March those with physical mailing addresses will receive either a paper questionnaire or ID code to participate in the census online.

“Participation in the census is critical in our small community,” said Mountain Village Mayor Laila Benitez. “Accurate population counts are essential to ensuring our community needs, such as funding of our roads, schools, and emergency resources, are accurately allocated for our current and future needs.”

Those whose mail goes to a post office box, will not receive a card from the Census Bureau, but starting March 12 they can participate online or by phone.

The Census will also be collecting data over the phone and with in-person Enumerators visits. Tri County Health Network (TCHNetwork) will also be providing locations where individuals without internet access can use computers to complete their census.

TCHNetwork is leading the local charge to inform the community on the importance of the census for San Miguel County. It is estimated that 30-40 percent of San Miguel County’s population was not counted in 2010 due to the region’s seasonal and transient workforce and high use of post office boxes for mail.

The census is used to allocate seats in congress, draw and redraw state legislative districts and distribute federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and more. According to TCHNetwork, there is approximately $880 billion in federal funding allocated nationwide based on Census counts. In Colorado that equates to approximately $13 billion annually, or an estimated $2,300 per person.

Additionally, if all people living in Colorado are counted, the state is slated to gain an additional congressional seat.

“An accurate count in these rural areas has immense benefits to our community,” said Hope Logan, TCHNetwork Community Specialist AmeriCorps VISTA. “The census count will either carry a positive or negative impact on our coverage area. If we are undercounted again like we were in 2010, our community loses out on representation, funds, and other resources for the next ten years.”

For transient workers or those with second residences, individuals are asked to identify either the place where they live and sleep more of the time or where they are staying on Census Day, Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

“Second homeowners should be counted on where they are on April 1, 2020,” said Corinne Cavender, public health marketing coordinator for TCHNetwork. “This is not necessarily the same as an individual’s legal residence, voting residence or where they prefer to be counted.”

The 2020 census includes only ten questions. You can expect to be asked your name, telephone number, sex, age, race, how many people are living in your residence, if extra people are staying at your residence, whether the residence is owned or rented, whether a person in your residence is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin, and the relationship of each person in your residence. There will be no questions that ask about one’s citizenship. Your answers will be kept confidential and cannot be shared with any other government or private agencies, including immigration and border patrol agencies.

The census will officially close August 31, 2020, with census employees in the field May through August.

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