2020 US Census effort in Eagle County gets $34,000 boost from the state
With hard-to-count populations identified, census outreach will launch in January
EAGLE — The state is giving Eagle County a $34,000 boost to complete its 2020 U.S. Census work.
Last week the Eagle River Complete County Committee learned the state Department of Local Affairs had approved a $34,040 grant for the local census effort. The group had requested $40,040.
“We were really fortunate. All told, $18 million was requested and it was a $6 million statewide pot,” said Abby Dallmann, Eagle County special projects manager. “To get just under $6,000 of our request, when some entities didn’t get anything, was a very pleasant surprise.”
Dallmann noted the money is earmarked for education and outreach and the Eagle Valley Complete Count Committee has worked to identify the populations that need extra attention.
Hard to count
The most recent meeting of the Eagle River Valley Complete Count Committee took place Nov. 6. The group has specified five hard-to-count local populations for the Eagle Valley:
Latinx residents: A non-gender specific term coined for the census effort represents an estimated 29% of Eagle County’s population. Eagle County Schools reports that 51.7% of its student population is Hispanic and 32% of that population are English-language learners. In Avon alone, an estimated 14% of households have no one who speaks English “very well,” Dallmann noted.
Low-income residents: Dallmann said this group — residents who live at or below the poverty line — encompasses an estimated 8% of the Eagle County residents.
Youth: Dallman noted that children are disproportionately under-counted in the census. “This is an interesting one to think about,” Dallman said. “It’s usually a simple thing like mom and dad are divorced and mom thought dad counted the kids and dad thought mom counted them.” An estimated 6.3% of Eagle County residents are younger than 5, and the Colorado Children’s Campaign has cited research showing that the 2010 Census missed as many as 18,000 kids in Colorado.
Seasonal/nontraditional housing residents: Dallmann noted an estimated 31.7% of households in Eagle River Valley are non-family and 42% of the valley’s housing units are seasonal, and the census takes place at the height of the valley’s seasonal employment influx. “The seasonal group is folks who may be working here for the season, but they may need to be counted locally, depending on how long they are here,” Dallmann said. Additionally, accessory dwelling units (often referred to as mother-in-law units) are a potential under-count issue. People who live in ADUs and share the same address should be counted along with the residents of the primary dwelling.
Little/poor internet and outer areas of the county: Dallmann noted that the initial push for the 2020 U.S. Census will be online, but an estimated 13.2% of valley residents meet the definition for poor internet infrastructure. “We don’t want those folks to get disenfranchised and just not fill out the census because it’s just not possible,” she said. Hard copy census forms will be provided for these residents.
With the challenges identified, Dallman said the county committee is reaching out to nonprofit groups that work with the various hard-to-count populations for assistance.
“Starting in January, we will be getting the ground messaging going,” Dallmann said. “The majority of the grant money will be spent in direct outreach to those groups that, for various reasons, we know don’t traditionally respond to the census.”