Memphis-area leaders urge residents to fill out 2020 census

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Officials from Memphis and Shelby County are asking residents to fill out the 2020 census, saying the message is simple: Make sure you are counted.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says so far the city has had a poor rate of response to the census at about 54 percent. Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris echoed Strickland, saying people must fill out the census as they look to build a brighter city and county because it will mean for funding for the Mid-South.

“This is a civic responsibility at least as important as voting,” Harris said. “In fact, in some ways making sure that you’re counted during the census is even more important than voting because recall the census only comes around once every 10 years.”

Both Mayors Strickland and Harris, accompanied by U.S Congressman Steve Cohen, held a press conference Monday expressing the importance of filling out the census. Strickland said the census equals money and will fund things like better public transit, education, jobs, and programs for children. He said the more people who participate in the census, the more funding will be available for these crucial programs in the area.

“These programs are funded based on the number of people who live in a community,” Strickland said. “And, it’s really more accurate to say who are counted as living in a community. Because if you’ve not filled out your form and somebody has not knocked on your door to count you. You’re not going to be counted in the census.”

Strickland said regardless of race, religion, and political affiliations, he just wants people across the city to do their part by filling out the 2020 Census. Additionally, he said each person counted equates to roughly $1,091 in federal money each year, for 10 years.

Cohen agrees and says it has always been difficult getting people in the impoverished areas to participate in filling out the census. He says somehow, they must connect with those communities because there are a lot of those areas throughout the region, and they will benefit the most from the census.

“Historically, the most difficult communities to get to fill out the census are poor areas, communities of color, Hispanic communities, and Memphis has a great deal of those citizens,” Cohen said.

The deadline to fill out the census is Sept. 30, and you can find out more information here.

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