'We need the representation': South Side neighborhoods organize to ensure accurate count in 2020 census

CHICAGO (WLS) -- South Side residents are preparing to go door to door in an effort to get people to complete the census amid concerns that under-served neighborhoods like Englewood will not be counted accurately.

Chatham resident Wesley Robinson wants to make sure his neighborhood gets counted next month. He's one of several Chicagoans joining pastors and community leaders to ensure participation in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census.

Organizers said black residents living in the South Side community have been under-counted for decades.

Pastor Richard Wooten of the Gathering Point Community Council said the $1,400 that federal officials allot per person during the census count adds up.

"In these two zip codes, there's over 135,000. Billions of dollars," Wooten said.

After receiving a $25,000 grant, the Greater Chatham Alliance has already started training outreach workers to help residents get the census done.

"We need the representation. We need the money for the schools, infrastructure, SNAP program, Medicaid, all those things are important in the black community and we need to keep those things viable," said Ora Jackson of the Greater Chatham Alliance.

It's possible that roughly 80% could complete the census online. It's the remaining community members - seniors, those without access to technology and residents who are distrustful of the process who will need to be helped and encouraged to participate in the count.

"Don't be scared to be counted. Just get information about the census," said community activist Manuela Davalos.

In Chatham, organizers said the community effort is bigger than collecting the questionnaires for the federal government, it's about rebuilding better neighborhoods.

"If the community can engage in this and get boots on the ground, there's no telling what we can do," said Love of Christ Missionary Baptist Church Bishop Don Adams.

Organizers said they'll also open up what they call safe centers. These will be locations where residents can come in and learn about the census and complete their questionnaires.

In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 census.

This year, you can respond for your household online or by phone or mail.
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