In a Thursday press conference organized by Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) Davidson County community leaders emphasized the need for census participation from Nashville’s minority population.
The census deadline, originally July 31, has been pushed back to Oct. 31. The typical door-to-door approach is too risky, given the COVID-19 threat, but leaders hope a move to a greater digital approach will reach minority communities from areas with low participation numbers.
In past censuses, communities living under the poverty line or needing additional resources have been underrepresented.
Councilperson Sandra Sepulveda represents District 30, which includes one of the largest Latino communities in Nashville, and believes the community lacks resources due to outdated data. The Latino community has been greatly affected by the pandemic and efforts to increase participation numbers include collaboration with Conexion Americas, Tennessee Immigrants and Refugees Rights Coalition (TIRRC), radio broadcasting, local Latino news outlets, press conferences and churches.
“We need to make sure that we continue to show what we bring to the table and what we need as a community,” said Sepulveda.
As examples, speakers on the press call referenced recent storms and the impact of COVID-19 in primarily minority communities. Nashville areas affected by the March tornadoes received a lot of help from volunteers, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responses to recovery efforts are critical and remain tied to census numbers.
Tennessee was granted $3.6 billion in federal coronavirus relief, but leaders believe Nashville needs to be better prepared for future disasters by pushing the census.
NOAH representatives said participation in the census will allow them to learn more about the demographics of the Muslim community in order to strategically hone services to different ethnic groups.
Community leaders believe minority groups fear giving information to the census due to beliefs that the information will be used against them, but responses to the census are completely protected and provide no risks.
“Without robust census participation,” according to NOAH, “Nashville is at risk of missing out on federal dollars for critical supportive programs.”
Families can participate in the census through their website or by calling (844)330-2020. Otherwise families can send their responses by mailing back census questionnaires.