The Daviess County Complete Count Committee will kick off an information blitz at the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Rooster Booster breakfast on March 28. This endeavor is designed to bring Owensboro’s businesses and representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau together, all in the attempt to get accurate numbers for the local area’s 2020 census count.
Committee chairperson Keith Sanders said those on the local Complete Count Committee are important components in getting an accurate count for areas of the city and county that often get undercounted. Some of these individuals include refugees, immigrants and low-income residents who live in different areas throughout the community.
“We’ve got lots of populations at risk of an undercount,” Sanders said. “Our population is dispersed pretty good.”
With much of Daviess County’s population being so widely spread across the county, areas such as Maceo on the east side and Stanley and Sorgho on the west end show low-response groups, according to data from the State Data Center. Meanwhile, areas inside city boundaries, such as neighborhoods located near Crabtree Avenue and Leitchfield Road, also show low-score responses to the census count.
Susan Montalvo-Gesser, director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Owensboro and Subcommittee Chair for the Hard to Count Population, is working with with the Daviess County Complete Count Commission to build connections with those living in these high-risk areas and maintain local ties to these groups so that the Daviess County Complete Count Committee can get accurate counts.
“My subcommittee is focusing on immigrants and the poor. We’re focusing on trust and language barriers,” Montalvo-Gesser said.
According to Montalvo-Gesser, uncounted populations are higher in areas where people rent, live in crowded or low-income housing, have a low English language proficiency or are defined as transients.
“It’s those people who are really hard to count,” Montalvo-Gesser said. “Most of the undercounted population lives in downtown Owensboro, on both the east and west sides. Each side is very different, demographically. One has a high Latino population and a low African-American population, while the other one is almost the complete opposite.”
To address the undercounted population, Montalvo-Gesser said her subcommittee has come up with a blueprint that’s focused on targeting the various faith communities, as well as using trusted leaders within each undercounted community to explain what the census count is about.
“Trusted leaders within the communities — we believe that’s the best approach. Having people they know will tell them the truth,” Montalvo-Gesser said.
Many of those in undercounted communities don’t necessarily trust the government, Montalvo-Gesser said, while some express nervousness about being reported to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). To ease the tension within these groups, Montalvo-Gesser and her team has chosen to use a different term to describe the census when speaking with these groups.
“Census is weird word for even English speakers to understand. We’ve come up with something different–’Todos cantamos’–meaning, ‘We all count,’” Montalvo-Gesser said. “It’s not as abrasive, and it’s easier to understand.”
Federal funding given to communities such as Owensboro and Daviess County is often based off numbers from the census count, which means $1,000 is deducted for each person who goes uncounted, Montalvo-Gesser explained. The Daviess County Complete Count Committee is striving to cross the 100,000-person threshold in this year’s census. This year’s numbers will set the federal funding amounts for the city and county over the next 10 years.
“That money is so important for this community and for all of our grants,” Montalvo-Gesser said.
Sanders said the Daviess County Complete Count Committee is currently hiring in-field address canvassers and census takers. Those wishing to apply can call 1-855-JOB-2020 or by clicking here.