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Teams fan out across Northeast Ohio to make sure 2020 Census is accurate

Hard to reach populations are being targeted
Posted at 5:35 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 18:29:19-05

CLEVELAND — Stand up and be counted. With 82 days until the 2020 census, the push to get every person in Cuyahoga County involved is intensifying.

With millions of dollars in funding on the line, several organizations are working to get an accurate count within culturally diverse communities in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.

"We are Somali, we are Nepali, we are people from all over the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America and Asia," said Joe Cimperman.

However, they’re often not accurately tabulated every ten years, according to Cimperman.

"It doesn't always get reflected on the Census, and this is the time for all of us to stand up and be counted," said Cimperman.

Cimperman, along with his team at Global Cleveland, are going door-to-door and attending events to immerse themselves in what he said are frequently underrepresented communities.

"Their being counted means they're important to us," said Cimperman.

They’re working to convince those who may not speak English, are undocumented or are uneasy about the process to take part in the 2020 Census.

“We're going to make sure we get to them, but we're going to do it in their language, we're going to do it in culturally appropriate ways," said Cimperman.

Information regarding the census will soon be available in 14 different languages.

"This is the first effort of its kind — in all the languages that we're translating things into — that we've ever attempted this in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, and we're going to do everything with a lot of intensity and a lot of love," Cimperman said.

A similar team at the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County is doing its own outreach.

"A lot of our clients are homeless, so they're living in unstable housing and they can also be in a residential treatment facility when the Census is going on," said Scott Osiecki, with the ADAMHS Board.

There are nearly 10,000 people in Cuyahoga County who fall into that category who are living with mental illness and addiction.

If they're not counted, along with other hard to reach populations, it could lead to a reduction in federal funding and ultimately services provided.

"We're having conversations with our over 60 provider agencies about how they can talk to their clients about completing the census," said Madison Greenspan, with the ADAMHS Board.

With all the controversy surrounding a citizenship question being added in 2020, Daniel Ortiz with Policy Matters Ohio said they're actively working to dispel myths within the Latino community.

"We know that the census has a history of certain populations being under counted. We're starting the drum beat, and in 2020 we expect that drum beat to get a lot louder," said Ortiz.

One of the messages Ortiz is sharing is without an accurate head count, those who rely on food aid benefits like SNAP could feel the pinch.

"Making sure that our community is counted accurately is especially important when that pool of resources could be shrinking," said Ortiz.

While $33.5 billion in funding is on the line for the State of Ohio, at the end of the day, Cimperman said it is also just as important for Cleveland to tell its own story and celebrate every single person who calls our community home.

"If you put your head on a pillow in Cuyahoga County on April 1, you have to be counted," said Cimperman.

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