Sonoma Valley Census rates in line with county and state
The local consensus on the census? So far so good.
Just one month after the official launch of the 2020 Census, Sonoma’s rate of census participation exceeds that of both the county and the state. Currently 59.7 percent of the state, 62.2 percent of Sonoma County and 67.3 percent of the City of Sonoma have completed a census form, according to 2020census.gov tracker. Springs neighborhoods, tracked by Census tract, range from 52 percent to 62 percent response. The lowest local numbers are in Glen Ellen, where census responses are far lower than reported in 2010, with only 38 percent of residents having completed the census form to date.
County efforts to ensure accurate 2020 Census data have been boosted by a series of grants issued to nonprofits to conduct census outreach efforts while in the community shelters in place. Some of these efforts were via phone banks and others piggybacked on COVID-19 assistance efforts, according to 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin.
Gorin described herself as “pleased” with the county results to date for the once-in-a-decade program and shared her feeling that an accurate census count was more crucial than ever for the future of Sonoma County.
“The pandemic could not come at a worse time as the census data for our community is vitally important to allow us to qualify for and receive financial assistance from housing to health care,” said Gorin.
Sonoma City Manager Cathy Capriola is also happy with the local census participation rates to date.
“I am pleased to see the relatively high response rate for the City of Sonoma,” she said. “It’s a good start, but there is no question that the city, county and state needs absolutely everyone to be counted.”
She agreed that accurate census results are especially critical in light of the scope of the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 emergency.
“If members of our community are not counted, we risk being under-represented and under-funded for years to come,” Capriola said. “The more participation, the more likely we are to secure a fair allocation of funding for our schools, roads and social assistance programs.”
While the COVID-19 emergency has shifted some of the focus away from the 2020 Census and has made traditional canvassing and pop-up events difficult, if not impossible, the city and county are still hard at work on efforts to reach every corner of the community.
A series of aggressive outreach programs are being executed by La Luz Center in the Springs.
“La Luz is really doing a lot of good work with its Census 2020 outreach,” said Capriola.
Angie Sanchez, community engagement manager at La Luz, said that the Boyes Hot Springs nonprofit has co-hosted four live Censoteria pop-ups on Instagram and Facebook in recent weeks with other Latino nonprofits which have attracted more than 3,000 participants. La Luz has experienced a surge in its social media reach - with daily posts reaching more than 11,000 people.
The nonprofit has also used phone calls and shoe leather to reach the community.
Its new phone bank hotline has already received more than 200 calls from community members with questions about the census and seeking assistance filling out the form.
La Luz has also been out on the streets in the Springs with tablets taking advantage of the cars regularly lined up at various Sonoma Valley food distributions sites. Their team has been adding census information to all the food boxes.
“We are helping those who are waiting in their vehicles for their food to complete their surveys on the spot,” said Sanchez. “A captive audience!”
Last week, La Luz also kicked off a new campaign called “Ponte la Máscara y Hazte Contar” - Spanish for “cover up and be counted” - that is a dual outreach effort that seeks to increase the awareness of both the importance of the new face mask order as well as the 2020 Census. Sanchez and her team will be out this week hanging the posters around town.
“I am really proud of all the work my team and I have been doing to continue our outreach efforts as it clearly shows by the increase in the census completion rate,” said Sanchez. “On March 20, when we began our intensive efforts, Sonoma Valley’s completion rate was only at 22 percent. Today, Sonoma Valley overall is doing better than the county, state and nation.”
“But we’re still far from our goal,” she added. “We need to continue to remind everyone that we lose $1,800 per person, per year for 10 years if they are not counted. Which means we stand to lose a huge amount of funds for important community programs, economic development opportunities and Congressional representation.”
Sanchez noted that while the minds of Sonoma County residents may be focused right now on the pandemic and its economic impact, the results of the 2020 Census are vital to future funding for the Valley and the county.
“The pandemic and its effects are estimated to last 12 to 18 months but the effect of not being counted in the census will impact us for the next decade,” she said.
Email Lorna at firstname.lastname@example.org.