Earlier this month, President Trump conceded in his year-long fight to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. At the local level, however, it’s as if nothing has changed, said Complete Count Steering Committee Co-Chair Dennis Bozanich. “We made a commitment as a committee to pretend as if [the question] is on there,” he said about the efforts to conduct a complete count of everyone in the area.
Bozanich and the committee are concerned that the Trump Administration’s immigration policy and push to add the citizenship question have undermined the public’s trust in government. “It’s fundamentally about the trust in the process, and that’s been broken,” said Bozanich, who worries that distrust and fear may keep community members from participating in the Census.
The committee has reason to worry. Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are ranked 58th and 59th, respectively, as the most at risk for a Census undercount in the nation. Even a 5 percent undercount could cost the county $43 million a year in federal funding for the next 10 years.
The 80-member committee is working closely with Ventura County to get rid of some of the fear and encourage all to complete the Census. Community members can expect to see the committee at area events starting as early as September. The ground game is to be where people already are, said Bozanich, who plans to have a presence at upcoming community events, schools, and places of worship.
The county has already accepted $350,000 and is expecting about $225,000 more from the state to aid in the complete count efforts. The money is being allocated to cities and community based organizations, Bozanich said. The county is relying heavily on organizations that have already built up a rapport with populations that are deemed hard to count, including undocumented, older, and transient folk. “If we have an incomplete count, there are consequences to that,” Bozanich said.