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Every 10 years, U.S. Census workers count everyone in the country. All decade long, everyone counts on the census, whether they know it or not.

The results determine where federal dollars go. All sorts of community programs count on this funding, from affordable housing to school lunch assistance. Cities, counties and organizations also use census data for planning purposes.

Learn about the 2020 Census

An “Everyone Counts Open House” will be held 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Stanwood Library.

Learn how a complete and accurate count benefits communities, from representation in government to funding for local services and grants to states under the Library Services and Technology Act.

The event encourages people to build their civic life, learn about the census, register to vote and get a library card.

Sno-Isle Libraries is a key partner in census education and outreach. Find census events, questionnaire samples and history at sno-isle.org/census.

Most households will receive their census materials March 12-20 when the census website goes live. This is the first census that will be focused online, according to the Sno-Isle website.

Census is hiring

A U.S. Census representative will be at the Stanwood Library during “Everyone Counts Open House” to help people apply to work for the census.

Temporary positions pay $20 to $22 an hour plus paid mileage reimbursement, with flexible hours and paid training. These temporary employees can expect to work in the area in which they live. Hiring preference is for military veterans and those with previous government experience.

Census facts

Darlene Brown, Everett field and recruiting manager for the Census Bureau, told the Anacortes City Council last month about the importance of getting an accurate Census count.

For each uncounted person, the state loses $2,000 to $3,000 in federal funds, she said. Over the 10 years until the next official count, that’s a cumulative loss of $20,000 to $30,000 for every person not counted.

“You (multiply) that by a family of five and by 100 households in the area, and you can see that it adds up really quickly,” she said. “Once those funds are lost, we will never get them again."

The census determines funding for 55 federal programs including Pell Grants, Head Start, medical assistance, Medicaid Part B, the national school lunch program and low- to moderate-income housing loans, Brown said.

Questionnaires will be mailed out starting in mid-March. After Census Day on April 1, census workers will begin visiting households that did not respond.

The Census Bureau is also hiring workers to count those without conventional housing or who are experiencing homelessness, and those in group quarters such as jails, nursing homes and dorms. More workers will count those living in hotels and motels, marinas, campgrounds, recreational vehicle parks and other transitory locations, Brown said.

Title 13 of the U.S. Code forbids the census from publishing a person’s private information or releasing it to government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security. The information will be locked for 72 years, she said.

“This information is strictly to collect data and (to determine) congressional appointments,” she said. “In 2010, (Washington) earned a congressional seat and we’d like to do that again, but we have to get everyone counted.”

The 2020 Census will include no questions about citizenship.

“We need people to know that they can (complete a census questionnaire) safely without any penalization or intrusion into their homes,” she said.

Contact reporter Peggy Wendel at pwendel@scnews.com or 360-416-2189.

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