PHOTO: From left, Celeste Menchaca, City of Victoria development coordinator; Ashley Strevel, City of Victoria director of Communications & Public Affairs; Bethany Castro, executive director of Perpetual Help Home; and Jodi Sandoval, community health worker with the Victoria County Public Health Department, discuss the 2020 Census during the recording of a podcast for the City’s TOWNtalk series.
The self-response period for the 2020 Census will end Sept. 30, and the Complete Count Committee—a coalition of representatives from the City of Victoria and various community organizations—is in the midst of its final push to make sure everyone in Victoria is counted.
“We pretty much know we’ve grown tremendously” since the 2010 Census, said Celeste Menchaca, development coordinator for the City of Victoria. “We need the federal government to know, ‘Hey, we’ve got more people here; we need the funds to help support them.’”
Ashley Strevel, director of Communications & Public Affairs for the City of Victoria, recently sat down with Menchaca; Bethany Castro, executive director of Perpetual Help Home; and Jodi Sandoval, community health worker with the Victoria County Public Health Department, to discuss the 2020 Census. The committee members addressed common misconceptions, what types of questions to expect and why the census matters.
In order to reach residents without internet access, committee members have been going to community events with iPads and personal protective equipment and inviting attendees to complete the census. The City of Victoria has also arranged for census kiosks to be set up at the Utility Billing Office and at the Victoria Public Library.
“I think just having access says a lot,” Sandoval said. “It’s not just saying, ‘Hey, we want to count you’; it’s saying, ‘Hey, we want to count you, and we’re going to give you the tools that you need to be counted.’”
Some residents have expressed concern about whether their information will be kept confidential and how it will be used. Committee members have reassured these residents that data gathered during the 2020 Census is only used to produce statistics. Identifying information is not made public or shared with other government agencies.
“When those census takers come to your door, they’ve already taken an oath,” Menchaca said. “They are bound by law; they cannot release any of your information.”
The confidentiality concern garnered attention last year as the federal government considered asking census respondents about their citizenship status. However, the citizenship question ultimately was not included on the census.
“What we really need to know is how many people live in a household,” Castro said. “For census purposes, we could care less what your status might be, but we can’t provide the services that you or your family need unless we know that you’re here.”
To respond to the 2020 Census, visit my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.
To learn more about the 2020 Census, listen to the full conversation between the Complete Count Committee members in the next episode of our podcast, TOWNtalk, which will be released at noon Aug. 31 at www.victoriatx.gov/TOWNtalk and in our email newsletter, The City View.
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