District communities plan for 2020 census

Michael Grovier, Co-Managing Editor

As many students have observed, counties in the Lake Land College district are placing great urgency on the 2020 Census. Recruiters have been out in full force, and many area townships have been holding public forums. Due to the high value placed on the 10-year count, Coles County has released a website stating the impact the census has on local residents.
The website, colescounty2020.com, states that counties lose an average of $1,600 over a ten-year period for every citizen who refuses to participate in the U.S. Census. This money comes in the form of federal programs such as school funding, public works and hospitals. In addition, the census is used to redraw political districts and determine public and private-sector boundaries. Outside of the direct implications, Charleston City Planner Steve Pamperin tells the Journal Gazette-Times Courier that businesses use city populations to decide where to build new locations.
In a public forum hosted by the Charleston Census Committee, presenters also shared many of the challenges faced when conducting a census. A major issue is the counting of students at colleges and universities. Pamperin shared that, while universities report the number of students in residence halls and on-campus housing, students living off-campus must self-report. This impacts nearly three-quarters of students at Eastern Illinois University and nearly all students at Lake Land College. Because of this, census officials will be working to conduct door-to-door visits before the school year concludes.
Before the door-to-door visits take place, citizens will have many options to fill out this year’s census. Jessica Meadows, Charleston Chamber CEO, writes in her Chamber Column that the census may be taken “via the mailed-out form, on the phone, and, for the first time, online.” Mailings will begin March 12, with census representatives visiting communities with large student populations in early April and other communities starting May 13. The census period will end July 31.

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