2020 Census becomes a challenge for rural communities

Megan Schiffres

by Megan Schiffres

KILMARNOCK—For citizens of rural communities like the Northern Neck, where many don’t have reliable internet access or receive mail at a physical address, being counted in the 2020 census poses a challenge.

The census is a complete count of the population of the U.S. and its five territories, the American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The count is mandated by the Constitution, and is used to determine how many Congressional seats each state receives, and helps to decide where federal and state resources are allocated. It is recorded once every 10 years, and this year will mark the 24th time the population has been counted since the census began in 1790.

“Responses to the 2020 census shape decisions about how billions of dollars in federal funds flow into communities each year, for the next 10 years, for critical services. Census responses inform funding for public programs in all communities, including grants for rural housing, schools, healthcare programs, emergency medical services and businesses. Counting everyone living in a community helps community leaders plan for the future,” said Lisa Chesnel, media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Despite its long history, there are a lot of misconceptions associated with the information that the U.S. Census collects. The census this year is composed of…