With Georgians living high in the mountains, on the piedmont, and below the Fall Line on the coastal plain, it is not hard to see that some places in Georgia would be harder to count than others. The problem escalates when you add factors like misinformation, misunderstanding, and lack of knowledge on what the Census does. Complete Count Committees (CCCs) are tasked with finding new and known ways to reach out to Hard-to-Count communities to ensure they have the knowledge and capability to complete their U.S. Census.
What is H-T-C?
Hard-to-Count (H-T-C) means that a household or an entire neighborhood is more difficult to count than average. They can be hard to contact, locate, interview, or even persuade into completing their Census form. This designation in 2020 can come from a range of reasons; not mailing back the paper form in 2010, known language barriers in a community, lack of access to the internet, communities in rural areas without roads, or lack of secure housing. There are Hard-to-Count communities all over the nation, and Georgia is no exception. There are H-T-C areas in cities, rural communities, and even suburban neighborhoods.
Are They Important?
In Georgia, Every. One. Counts. This is especially true since Census data is used to determine how much federal aid Georgia receives and how many congressional representatives we get compared to other states. When it comes to planning for our future, it is important we know how many people live in what regions of Georgia. This helps us plan out road development, hire the right amount of fire rescue workers, organize with rural and urban communities that are facing hardship, and even see where environmental impacts may be happening.
Georgia's H-T-C Areas
There are many examples of communities in the state that are Hard-to-Count. College towns are an example of a place where housing is very inconsistent because college students are frequently moving residences. In downtown areas where commercial businesses exist and traditional housing or mailboxes are sparse, it can be hard to contact those who live in the area. Diverse areas from Atlanta to Valdosta have communities with speakers of multiple languages that may not be aware of the Census or be able to complete the form in English. Other H-T-C areas in Georgia include densely developed areas along interstate highway corridors and small towns and large counties in central Georgia with less dense development.
What Can CCCs Do?
Complete Count Committees should have an open discussion about outreach initiatives that would be beneficial in reaching these communities. Whether it is boots-on-the-ground sharing information on what all the Census does or putting informational inserts in power and water bills, locals know their communities best and can formulate the best plan for ensuring 100% of the people in their community are counted. This is best facilitated by having a diverse group of community leaders and trusted voices on your CCC that understand the different types of people in their community and what causes the barrier to them completing the Census form. CCCs should also source solutions to outreach barriers from the community itself. If a neighborhood does not have internet access or other utilities, setting up a location for the whole community to complete the Census on or before Census Day (April 1) could offer another guaranteed opportunity for them to complete their form.