Special promotional content provided by the City of Madison
The U.S. Census only happens once every ten years. A national headcount of everyone living in the United States gets underway in mid-March – it’s important that every person in Madison is included.
As a member of the Madison Common Council, I hear from Madison residents every day about what is great about our city. I also hear from some of our traditionally under-represented communities how Madison can be better.
We want access to a better transit system for working people to get to jobs and for those with disabilities to live with freedom and independence. We want investments in more affordable housing. We want service providers to help people feel safer in places of temporary or emergency housing if they have experienced domestic violence or homelessness. We want our schools, Head Start and other special education programs to provide better education programs that help all kids achieve and thrive. We need programs and services designed to make life better for our communities, especially for our most vulnerable populations.
Our community has grown and become more diverse over the last decade. Participating in the U.S. Census is a way to collect information about how truly diverse Madison is. We need an accurate headcount, to better invest in the services we need to enhance the lives of people who live here.
The Census isn’t without controversy. I get many questions from residents about why the Census is required and whether the information they share will remain confidential. This is a top concern for our neighbors who aren’t citizens, who may be undocumented, or who live with family members who are undocumented. By law, individuals’ personal information collected through the U.S. Census cannot be shared with immigration officials, landlords, creditors, law enforcement, courts, or employers.
The way the U.S. Census works is simple. In March every household will get an invitation in the mail with instructions to fill out their Census questionnaire online. The Census asks questions about each person’s age, sex, race, and relationship (married or partnered, parents and their children or infants, roommates, and nonrelatives all count).
Anyone not comfortable on a computer or unable to fill out the Census online can participate by phone instead. Online forms are available in the top 12 most common languages, and there will be online language glossaries for 59 non-English languages, including Hmong. If your household prefers filling out a paper form, those will be mailed by the Census Bureau as part of a follow-up reminder to complete the census.
For college students, the Census should be a snapshot of where they are living this spring. That means students should fill out the forms as residents at their Madison-area dorms or off-campus housing rather than at their parents’ addresses.
People who are serving time in prison also count. Federal Census Bureau staff will be counting those who are incarcerated, as well as those who are homeless and living in Madison.
The Census is a simple form to fill out. The opportunity for people of color in our city to be counted should not be understated. The City of Madison is partnering with local community groups including the African American Council of Churches, American Council of Churches, and others to answer people’s questions about the Census. We’re working with many trusted partners to make sure historically undercounted people are aware of what’s at stake in an accurate headcount.
Each and every person in Madison – regardless of their race or language or age – matters. Fully understanding the depth of our diversity is only possible if we get an accurate count of every person in our community. The City of Madison needs help reaching out to local residents. We need everyone to help make Madison count.
You can help by encouraging your neighborhood associations or your communities of faith to tell people about the Census. You can request educational materials to be shared at your workplace. You can share social media posts from the City of Madison and the United States Census Bureau to help others get the facts about why participation in the U.S. Census is so vital.
I’m proudly serving on the City’s Complete Count Committee. But this team of leaders cannot do it alone. Help us help your neighbors and friends participate in the Census so, together, we can Make Madison Count.