HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hattiesburg mayor Toby Barker and other community leaders launched the city’s 2020 Census campaign Tuesday.
Hattiesburg Counts will help to ensure fair representation at all levels of government and it will impact the city’s funding for the next decade, as well as guide the process of planning for education, infrastructure and transportation, emergency preparedness and disaster relief protocols.
The campaign will also make sure that the Census count will help with medical research and planning for public health, along with playing an important role in market expansion with retail, dining and workforce development, which will help with Hattiesburg’s daily operations.
“The time for Hattiesburg to be counted is now,” said Barker while standing on the City Hall steps. “The importance of an accurate and complete count of every person and every door cannot be overstated.”
Before the previous Census in 2010, the City of Hattiesburg was projected to have around 51,000 people to affirm itself as the third largest city in the state; however, not one Census tract or area within the city limits had more than a 37 percent self-response rate, resulting in Hattiesburg’s population to come in around 46,000, making it the fourth largest city instead.
Barker talks about how hard it is to maintain an accurate count for the Census and what this count will be like since tornadoes altered some areas of the city.
“In Hattiesburg, an accurate count can be difficult because we know there is a high turnover in people living here. What makes us so dynamic and so culturally diverse also sometimes makes it more challenging to accurately count every person,” said Barker. “Additionally, with two tornadoes since the last Census count, there are neighborhoods – particularly in the east of the city – that no longer exist as they once did. Because of these things, we start the process behind the 8-ball. That’s why it’s so important we work together, as a community, to make Hattiesburg count by filling out the Census.”
The 2020 Census will be available for response online, by mail or by phone. Between March 12 and April 3, residents will get several touch points by mail only with information about self-response via online form, and beginning in April, paper forms will be mailed to all who did not respond online.
Census representatives will never ask for a citizen’s social security number, bank account or anything outside of basic demographic questions regarding a single household.
Officials want residents to also know that information that is collected will be constitutionally and federally protected by law as it will only be used for statistical purposes and will not be shared with law enforcement agencies like DHS, ICE, FBI, etc.
“My encouragement for every Hattiesburger – regardless of race, gender, education, citizen or non-citizen, age, religion, political affiliation – is to fill out your Census,” Barker added. “Do it early and be done. It’s the best thing anyone can do to make sure Hattiesburg counts.”
The City of Hattiesburg will partner with local businesses, organizations and events within the coming weeks to help promote and boost Census participation.
Information regarding those items and additional information can be accessed here.