By Aaron Burch
The 2020 United States Census begins March 12th. This once per decade event is an essential part of a functioning democracy. Every person counted assists state and federal government in allocating funds and proper representation in Congress. To help explain the Census process, as well as the behind the scenes work being done to ensure turnout is high, MAC recently interviewed Catalina Cordova, Louisville’s Census Coordinator. Please enjoy the interview as we prepare to begin this extremely important journey.
Q: Ms. Cordova, thank you for speaking with MAC. You’ve been a radio station manager for 101.9 FM (WLRS/El Poder) for 10 years. How did you become involved in activism and outreach?
A: Well, Mexico was hit with a serious earthquake in 2017. Our radio station was preparing a radiothon to benefit the victims when Hurricane Maria appeared and hit Puerto Rico. We decided to go one whole day doing a radiothon. People could call in and decide where their donations would go. We also partnered with a local news station. It was successful! We had a really good response and ended up raising more than $26,000.
Q: You applied for and were awarded the position of Census Coordinator in April 2019. What has preparation looked like, both for yourself and for the Louisville Metro Government?
A: When I first came on board, the primary work we were doing was identifying events and communities in the area where we needed to start talking about the census. This was the informational phase and revolved around creating awareness. We encouraged connection to community stakeholders and established subcommittees to specifically target hard to reach populations.
For example, we formed the children and youth subcommittee because we have an undercount for children under the age of 10. That subcommittee features faculty and staff from Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky Youth Advocates and United Way.
Another important subcommittee was formed for immigrants, because Louisville has a vibrant and diverse immigrant population from Mexico, Vietnam, Somalia and more. So we have people all over the region trying to create awareness for our immigrant community here in Louisville.
Q: How are you preparing for the census as the opening day draws near?
A: Outreach into communities has been very important. We’re telling people what the Census is and where they can take it beginning March 12th (https://www.census.gov/). Through our subcommittees, we’re working hard to get information out via community events and social media. In just a few weeks time, residents will receive an invitation in the mail informing them they can go online and take the census.
Q: How is the city preparing to assist those who have limited access to the internet?
A: Louisville Metro has 300 computers that they are offering to nonprofits or any organization with space to create a computer lab. Louisville will provide those communities with computers. Also, residents can fill out an application for appointments with computers throughout the city. In addition, we’ve partnered with public libraries, JCPS, and various community centers throughout the Metro which will provide community access to online capabilities.
Q: What else should readers know about the 2020 Census?
A: This time around, the Census is just 10 questions per person. If you have a household with multiple people, you will fill out one survey and include each resident in that survey. We want people to complete the Census as soon as they receive the first notification. For those who are uncomfortable filling out data online, there will be opportunities to call in and fill out the sentence over the phone as well.
Our office is also concerned that there may be scams that try to confuse or trick people during the window in which we take the Census. Here are some basic things to know. No one will ever call you to complete the census. You’ll never receive an email to take the Census. Information will only come via regular mail. Remember that the Census Bureau will not be asking for your Social Security Number, for money, for a credit card number or your mother’s maiden name. Those are red flags right away. If someone calls you saying they are from the Census Bureau, hang up.
Q: How can the average Louisville resident assist your office?
A: We are still asking people to volunteer and inform our office of event’s happening throughout the city in which we can share information on the Census. We’d love to provide resources to any who has an audience. (Editor’s note: Visit https://www.census.gov/partners/toolkits.html for more information.)
There are still many jobs available at the Census Bureau. If you’re looking for a summer job, consider us. Here in Jefferson County, full time jobs are paying between $19.50 and $23.50 per hour. Jeffersonville, Indiana, is a processing center. They have part time jobs paying more than $14 per hour.
Q: Are there misconceptions about the Census that you would like to address?
A: Some people have received surveys from the Census Bureau, and they believe they’ve already completed the Census. Please remember that the Centennial Census only happens every 10 years, and it is always at the same time. You may have filled out a survey for the Census but, if you completed anything before March 12th, it was not the 2020 Census. It is essential you fill out the Census because it decides how much funding comes to our state, cities and counties. We have representation at stake, as well as $675 billion dollars in funding.
Q: Is there anything else readers should know?
A: The first week of March, Louisville is having a Census week. Many community partners will be hosting events. If you’d like to have an event where you discuss the Census, contact me via my email: Catalina.Cordova@louisvilleky.gov.
Thank you to Ms. Cordova once more for taking the time to tell us about this important undertaking. We wish her and her department complete success. Please be sure to fill our the Census beginning March 12th.