Rural Alaska has been doing well on filling out the census, but the problem is in hub communities like Bethel. According to Nicole Borromeo, executive vice president and general counsel for the Alaska Federation of Natives, that failure to provide census data will cost the region lots of money.
“For example, if a family of four does not fill out the census,” said Borromeo, “that’s $150,000 that does not come back to the state.”
Borromeo said that it’s important that people also tell the truth about the number of people living in their households. She understands that some may hesitate because more people are living in the house than is allowed under federal Housing and Urban Development Department guidelines, but she said that the census cannot share that information.
“The census is forbidden by law from sharing that information with HUD. So it doesn’t hurt you in any way to be completely honest about how many people you have living in your home, because it actually helps us get more resources back to Alaska and show Congress what our true housing needs are,” said Borromeo.
The deadline for filling out the census may be a lot closer than many expected because the Trump administration shortened the deadline from the end of October to the end of September. That has been challenged in court, but Borromeo said that until that court rules again, people need to assume that they have to fill out the census by the end of Wednesday, Sept. 30, to get counted.
“So we’re in this litigation limbo at this point, waiting for court to decide when the count officially ends, which is why we’re trying to get this information out encouraging all Alaskans not to wait until October to get this done.”
To fill out the census, call 844-330-2020 or go to 2020census.gov.
To encourage Alaska Natives to participate in the census, the Alaska Federation of Natives has offered a chance to win prizes daily on AFN’s Facebook page.
“We’ve been giving away Garmin in-reaches, kuspuk jackets, gift certificates to Costco, Cabela's, AIH. It’s fantastic,” Borromeo said.
Borromeo said that AFN does the drawing at 8 p.m., so you have to have sent the information to their page on Facebook before that.
Both Borromeo and Ana Hoffman, the Co-Chair of AFN, were on Coffee@KYUK Monday, Sept. 28, talking about the census.