‘Be Counted’: City Spending Millions To Make Sure Everyone In Chicago Is Counted In 2020 U.S. Census

Chicago News

CHICAGO (CBS) — The city of Chicago is spending $2.7 million to make sure you’re counted in the upcoming Census, in an effort to make sure the city doesn’t lose out on federal funding tied to population.

A new decade is upon us, but has much changed among us? Big Brother really wants to know.

City Hall has been adorned with plenty of posters and banners urging Chicago residents to “be counted” in 2020.

“They’re on the elevators, they’re hanging up, they’re everywhere,” said Diane Williams.

The “Be Counted” public awareness campaign urging people in Chicago to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census is being performed free by marketing agency FCB Chicago, but the city is still investing $2.7 million in taxpayer money to prepare for the Census.

The mayor’s office said the money will go towards community grants, media buys, increasing internet hotspots, providing free computer locations, and addressing language and physical needs to help people fill out Census forms.

Cook County government also is spending $2 million on a public relations blitz to get people to take part in the Census.

However, some have questioned if that money is actually getting the message out.

“That’s an unbelievable amount of money for us to not know that it’s happening. Between my wife, who works in the city, I’m a student here in the city, you would think that that sort of thing would filter down at some point,” Vincent Elliott said.

There’s still time to get the message out. Census questionnaires don’t hit mailboxes until April, leaving 12 weeks to inform taxpayers if they’re not counted in the 2020 Census, they’re only hurting themselves.

Census data helps determine how many representatives each state gets in Congress, how state legislatures will draw up district maps, and how the federal government will dole out billions of dollars in funding for state and local governments.

Chicago officials said the city would lose approximately $1,400 a year in federal funding for every resident who doesn’t send in his or her Census data. That’s $14,000 over the next decade for every man, woman, and child not counted.

If that doesn’t inspire you, perhaps this will: not answering the Census questionnaire is a crime, and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.

That’s a $5,000 penalty for approximately 10 minutes of your time.

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