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Accurate census count crucial for funding public assistance programs

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Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-01 23:00:24-05

INDIANAPOLIS — It's that time again. Every 10 years, every person living in the United States is counted by the Census Bureau.

Indianapolis Urban League CEO Tony Mason said making sure everyone is counted matters because an undercount means less money to go towards helping families in need.

"The federal government allocates $675 billion towards social efforts and things such as housing and education," Mason said. "We probably help somewhere in the area of 400 to 500 families with emergency rent and utility assistance. Most of those dollars come through FEMA funds, so we're talking about federal funds."

In order to dispel some of the fears that might keep people from taking part in the census, Mason said it all confidential. The information will not be released to police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"If we experience an undercount, then it will impact funding for vital programs and services not only here in Indianapolis, but across the state," Mason said.

The census is expected to be complete on April 1. The head of the household must include everyone living in the home.

Mason cannot stress enough what could happen if everyone isn't counted.

"Everything from Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, all sorts of public assistance programs will then be underfunded," Mason said. "This is necessary. It is vital. It is hugely important. We put the census count right there with voting."

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