SOLEDAD — Monterey County hosted a Census Week of Action last week that included a Questionnaire Assistance Kiosk at the South County YMCA in Soledad on July 2.
Two computer stations were set up with members of the Census Complete Count Committee on hand to assist with filling out 2020 census forms or provide information about the census.
The week of activities was part of an effort to raise the county’s current response rate of 58.7 percent, compared to the statewide response rate of 62.8 percent.
“We launched a series of activities that would help raise awareness about the census and motivate our community to take the census,” said Rosemary Soto, lead member of the Census Complete Count Committee.
The week began in Soledad, as well, with a kick-off caravan on June 28.
“The census caravan is much like the birthday parades that happen,” Soto said. “It’s a way for us to travel through the neighborhoods in the census tracks that are currently having some low response rates.”
The parade and other events in the county were a way for partner organizations to get residents to learn more about the 2020 census. Advocates for the census have explained proper counts of all area residents leads to proper allocation of government resources and funds.
“We’re having relevant conversations about why the census is important and how it impacts us,” Soto said.
The county also put on a virtual celebration for Pride Month on June 30.
“This is the first time the census allows for same-sex relationships to be counted with that distinction,” said Soto, adding that gender is now allowed to be self-identified, which overall gives more visibility to the LGBTQ community. “Those are a couple of milestones that were celebrated.”
Filling out forms was the goal during the July 2 kiosk event at the South County YMCA.
“The biggest purpose of today is for folks to come through and get assistance with completing their survey,” Soto said. “We have laptops set up. If folks have questions about the census, we can walk them through the process of completing their survey. Or, if people have some challenges around access to the internet, this is a way to do it here.”
Soto said census questions aren’t always clear to those filling out forms.
“Some people might be a little apprehensive about using a computer,” she said. “That’s what we’re here for, to increase access to the questionnaire and make sure they can be counted.”
The July 2 kiosk was operated in a partnership between Monterey County, CSUMB, the public health bureau, the Center for Community Advocacy and Padres Unidos.