The census for 2020 – why is it important? The kickoff for the 2020 census begins Friday in the City of Evansville.
Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd goes In Depth with Kelley Coures and James Mosley about the importance of the 2020 census.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to In Depth. 142,000 – hold onto that number because we are talking about a number that affects everyone. The census for 2020. What will it say about the Tri-State’s largest city, the third largest in Indiana? And why is that important? Tomorrow is a kickoff if you will of a major push to search out every nook and cranny of Evansville to get the most accurate count of how many people live here. ‘E’ is for everyone but is everyone being counted? Joining me tonight are James Mosley, of Enviro-Kinetics, Inc., who is the point man for the City of Evansville campaign for the 2020 census, and Kelley Coures, Executive Director of the Department of Metropolitan Development. Thank you for being here tonight James and Kelley. I want to talk about this, Kelley, why is that important? For those who say why do they need me to fill this out?
Kelley Coures: Cities like Evansville derive a lot of their federal assistance for services to lower-income people, affordable housing, services to the homeless. All of those things are derived from census data. There are algorithms that HUD uses to formulate awards every year for that assistance. So, the greater the depth we can penetrate and get these response rates high poverty low-income populations – the greater potential we have to get federal assistance, federal dollars to help us.
Brad Byrd: And James, you’re being charged with a very big challenge, which is the population of Evansville with the estimate of 2017 was about 118,000 people. How do you reach those people? How are you going to reach those people who may not have been counted, not only, in that estimate, or they weren’t counted in the 2010 census.
James Mosley: I’m glad you asked that question. In the 2010 census we have actually identified census tracks, where there were low responses. We’re going to target those census tracks with a focus on increasing participation.
Brad Byrd: And the response rate in 2010 actually dropped from the response rate in 2000. Why are people not as engaged with that process and how is that going to be met?
Kelley Coures: It dropped from about an 81% response rate to about a 77% response rate. But there are some neighborhoods that dropped as low as 73%. And those are the targets that when the mayor and I started talking about this we decided we wanted to go in a direction where we’d be able to reach out to neighborhoods and subgroup populations that may have been missed. But we know where those are because of the maps. And I thought, I went to the mayor and suggested we hire James, who owns his own company, Enviro-Kinetics, because James has done a lot of public engagement work for the city already with some projects and I thought he would be ideal for that.
Brad Byrd: And James, we’re going to use one of those maps right now. I think people are going to be surprised when they see this map and seethe level of poverty in the city. How are you going to reach low-incomes barely getting by? How are you going to communicate with them?
James Mosley: Well, primarily we’ll go into the churches, we’ll go into the neighborhood associations, community-based organizations, that often provide services to those populations. I think what you’d find if you take the other map, overlay it over this, it corresponds and almost matches the map here. We’ll be focusing on those census tracks with an intense outreach effort.
Brad Byrd: And I’ll mention the number 142,000 – that’s the number of people listed in the 1960 census. So, we have dropped about 32,000 – 42,000 actually. No I’m wrong, it’s about 22,000 but the point is what does that tell you about the migration of people outside the city limits? Because the region is growing.
Kelley Coures: If you look at the population drop that the city limits has had since 1960 and you look at the county population increase, the percentage of people who live outside the city in Vanderburgh County, there’s almost a complete overlay of the numbers of people dropping, the number of people increasing in Vanderburgh County, there are about 60,000 people living in the county now outside the city limits. Where as in 1960, there were only about 20,000 people who live in the county outside the city limits.
Brad Byrd: And we were talking about St. Louis as an example. It’s kind of eerily similar, on a larger scale of course, to Evansville. In 1960, well over 600,000 people in St. Louis city limits. Today it’s almost cut in half, but it is a huge region. And that kind of mirrors in some way Evansville. Do you want the millennials to move back in from the suburbs, or who are you looking for that you would like to count in 2030?
Kelley Coures: Well, one of the reasons that we’ve undertake such efforts to develop downtown is to have housing opportunities that would attract millenial populations because we’re a little bit behind the time. We have been for the last decade or so in attracting those millenials, so we’re looking for a hip environment to come and live and work because they want to live, work and play in the same place. They want to live, work, and play downtown. They want to be able to ride their bikes to work, and all those kinds of things. So, to answer your question, we want everything. We want more people to move to Vanderburgh County. We want more people to move into the city limits, but we also want to be sure that in the 2020 census that we’re counting everyone possible. And that’s James’s role. We have a complete count committee that will meet tomorrow morning at …
Brad Byrd: 9 o’clock in room 301. There’s a number that people can reach, and James you’re looking for people we basically call them the census takers. That’s what they are right?
James Mosley: Absolutely, numerators.
Brad Byrd: And if you want to be come one, how do you do that?
James Mosley: Well, they can reach out on the website which is the 2020Census.gov/jobs. And there’s also a 1-800 number that’s available to help those fill out the employment application.
Brad Byrd: And you can also call Justin Gatewood.
James Mosley: Justin Gatewood.
Brad Byrd: At the number right there…812-589-1380.
James Mosley: Justin has agreed to actually meet with individuals and help them with the application process.
Brad Byrd: We’ll see how the number counting goes going into 2020. James Mosley, thank you so much for joining us. Kelley Coures, once again it’s great to see, and we appreciate your input on this.
(This story was originally published on August 15, 2019)