Evers, Madison city officials: Fill out your 2020 census forms next year

It takes 10 minutes, happens once a decade and provides decades of information.

City and state officials are trying to educate people about the importance of filling out their forms for the 2020 census in March.

Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order Monday afternoon in Milwaukee creating a committee aiming to increase participate in the 2020 census in Wisconsin.

The committee will develop strategies to reach hard-to-count communities. The U.S. Census Bureau defines those communities as children, immigrant and refugee communities, low-income families, renters and those who do not live in traditional housing, people of color, individuals with disabilities and rural communities.

Ben Zellers, a planner with the city of Madison, said preparing for the 2020 census is taking up a good amount of his time. He’s working with the Madison Metropolitan School District, University of Wisconsin-Madison, local nonprofits and neighborhoods to educate people about the importance of filling out the forms.

The data helps decide how legislative districts will be drawn and how $675 billion in federal funds will be divided.

“If we don’t have the complete and accurate count within the city, that means for the next 10 years we’d be missing out on our fair share of federal funding for things like transit, roads, affordable housing, health care, nutrition,” Zellers said.

U.S. households will get an invitation from the U.S. Census Bureau in mid-March and be invited to take the census online, a new option for 2020. People can also fill out the information by phone, smartphone or mail.

Anyone who does not fill out the forms will likely get a visit from a census worker in May.

By federal law, all the census information has to be kept confidential for at least 72 years.

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