Mass. Advocates Say Millions In Federal Subsidies Are On The Line With 2020 Census
A Boston-based nonprofit says Massachusetts residents are at risk of missing out on millions of dollars in federal subsidies for a range of programs like Head Start and the Children's Health Insurance Program if the current federal census infrastructure is not improved.
The advocacy group Lawyers for Civil Rights is demanding modifications from the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure an accurate count in 2020. Among the requests, the group says Massachusetts needs increased language assistance, diverse census administrators and more field offices — especially west of Worcester.
Lauren Sampson, a civil rights fellow with the group, says accurately counting low-income households, people of color, immigrants and families speaking limited English can be especially challenging.
"For every person not counted by the census, that's thousands of dollars a year — every year for 10 years — that their community just loses," she said.
The group estimates that federal subsidies, largely determined by census results, account for nearly 30 percent of the state's budget.
In a letter sent to the New York regional census office, and copying the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Lawyers for Civil Rights outlines how the census not only shapes federal subsidies for the state, but also how it influences congressional representation. The group notes that Massachusetts lost a seat in Congress after the 2010 census.
If the census bureau does not respond within the next two weeks, Lawyers for Civil Rights plans to file litigation in the spring.
"There is almost no aspect of civic life that [the census] does not touch, and so this is an issue that we think is of concern to everyone," Sampson said.