The count for the 2020 Census is underway and it’s critical that everyone in New Bedford participates.

By responding to the census, we ensure that the city has the funds we deserve to support our schools, improve our roads and bolster social services for those in need. Not only do these critical resources depend on a complete and accurate count, but New Bedford's representation in Congress is also determined by our census response. This funding and legislative representation are more important today than ever. In the era of COVID-19, the financial support helps cities receive medical testing, masks and other vital health resources that keep us safe.

The census is completely confidential. The results are not shared with any other federal agency or private entity. This is a crucial point and one that shouldn’t get lost amid the din of national debate. The Constitution calls for every person in the country to be counted. Whether you’ve lived in this country your whole life, or just a few weeks, either way, you still count. The census asks no questions about your immigration status or citizenship.

If you live here, you count. When you fill out the census, include everyone living in your household, regardless of their age. Don’t forget to count children, including newborns.

New Bedford has struggled in the past to get a complete count of its residents. As of August 2, the city has a response rate of 56 percent, falling short of the national rate of 62 percent.

The city needs everyone to complete the census online at www.my2020census.gov or by phone at 1-844-330-2020. If you need assistance, you can call one of the many help centers listed on the City’s website. Census representatives will also be attending a series of upcoming city events, including food distribution and COVID-19 testing sites, to help people fill out their census.

The census only comes around every 10 years, which means it will be another decade before we have this opportunity. Let’s make the most of it. It only takes a few minutes, but it will affect the health, education, and quality of life of our residents for years to come. Every response matters, so be counted and help us get a complete and accurate count.

To those who have already completed the census, we thank you on behalf of our city. If you haven’t, there’s still time to be heard.

Remember, you have the power. Don’t let anyone take it from you.

Make a difference. Take the census.

Submitted by:

Lynn A. Coish
Coordinator, New Bedford Complete Count Committee

Gail Fortes
Executive Director, YWCA Southeastern MA

Helena DaSilva Hughes
Co-Chair, New Bedford Complete Count Committee
Executive Director of the Immigrants' Assistance Center, Inc.

Pam Kuechler
Executive Director, PACE, Inc.

Rev. David A. Lima
Co-Chair, New Bedford Complete Count Committee
Executive Minister, Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford

Adrián Ventura
Executive Director, Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores (Community Workers' Center)

Corinn Williams
Executive Director, Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts

Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest blogs from newsmakers across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact tim@wbsm.com for more information.