Every 10 years the U. S. Census Bureau aims to count the entire population of a country, and at the location where each person usually lives. The Constitution of the United States mandates the enumeration to determine how to apportion the House of Representatives among the states. The goal is to count everyone once and in the right place.
Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Communities benefit the most when the census counts everyone.
When you respond to the census, you help your community get its fair share of the more than $400 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs. Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, and this creates jobs.
Developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods. Local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.
So, what does the Census have to do with you?
The data collected by the U.S. Census has repeatedly collected inaccurate or incomplete data which misrepresents the needs of the Nation and its members.
As a direct result, the Tohono O’odham Nation is limited on the amount of federal and state funding to address community concerns related to housing, law enforcement, health and human services, and other essential needs.
What can be done about this?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows tribes to challenge the U.S. Decennial Census data used in the Needs component of the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) formula.
In June 2017, the Tohono O’odham Legislative Council approved funding and support to conduct a census challenge through Res. No. 17-226 and has contracted Big Water Consulting to gather statistically relevant information to challenge the data collected.
This challenge project will allow the Nation to challenge HUD’s use of Census data and may encourage other grant processes to take this new data into account.
What is the Goal and Objective of doing a Census Challenge?
The goal and objective of the Census Challenge will be, for the Nation itself, to obtain and provide accurate and comprehensive demographic and statistical data concerning communities, districts, and the Nation as a whole to adequately address future policy and management decisions, housing needs, and planning efforts. Furthermore, pursue federal funding that will address additional community needs. The completed census challenge results will be sent to the U.S. HUD offices by March 2018 and will support the importance of collecting accurate data for the upcoming 2020 Census.
How do we plan to do this?
The census challenge will involve a confidential needs and household survey within the boundaries of the Tohono O’odham Nation conducted by field staff in partnership with Big Water Consulting. Field staff members will be members of the Nation from various districts across the Nation who will be provided a three day training. The first phase will be a Comprehensive Housing Unit Assessment which will be conducted in September and October. This will consist of field staff gathering information about the exterior condition of every home on the Nation (roof, siding, windows, etc.).
Second phase of the project is a Household Survey which will consist of field staff visiting some homes on the Nation to electronically collect important household information. Although not all homes on the Nation will be surveyed, it is very important for households that are visited by field staff to participate and answer to the questionnaire. All information collected from the household survey will be kept confidential.