Census 2020: Your neighbors are counting on you

The 2020 census response rate for the city of La Crosse is only 66.2% with the clock ticking down to the Sept. 30 deadline for people to be counted. 

An accurate count of all people living in La Crosse is vital to ensuring the city gets the funding and representation that can help the area thrive, said Emily Yang, who is the Community Empowerment Coordinator with Cia Siab, Inc., in La Crosse.

“My biggest message is: it’s not too late to complete your census,” she said. “It’s a very simple process and it’s so important to many of the members of our community who depend on federal programs.”

This is the first time participants can complete the census online at 2020census.gov. Yang said people can come to the HCCA (Hmoob Cultural and Community Agency), which is located at 1815 Ward Avenue in La Crosse, on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for assistance completing the census.

“Especially during Covid, it’s even more important that we all get counted,” Yang said. “We don’t know how long this is going to last and we don’t know how it could impact our federal funding.”

Information from the census is used in the distribution of funds through programs that include Pell Grants for low-income students, SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or food stamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), the national school lunch program, Head Start, and highway funding.

“So many of the Hmong members of our community rely on these programs and that’s why it’s important we get as accurate a census as possible,” Yang said.

Cia Siab, Inc., which works in La Crosse to build a culturally vibrant Hmoob community, is partnering with other groups to try and boost census participation, including Black Leaders Acquiring Collective Knowledge (BLACK) and the Hmong Organization Promoting Education (HOPE) at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Counting the student population in La Crosse is especially important, as it makes up such a large part of the community.

Yang encouraged anyone with questions about the census to email her directly at emily@ciasiabinc.org. The deadline to be counted in the census is Sept. 30.

As of this week, the city of La Crosse response rate of 66.2% to date remains well below the 77.7% response rate record in the 2010 census for the city. For all of La Crosse County, the current response rate is 71.8%.

By Eric Timmons. Email questions to lacrosseindependent@gmail.com. Top image: A sign advertising the 2020 Census in Columbus, Ohio/Blervis/CC BY-SA 4.0

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