Maritessa is Beneficial State Foundation’s Director of Community Engagement for California, based in Oakland, CA.
The 2020 U.S. Census is right around the corner and so much is at stake. Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau is constitutionally mandated to count every person in our country. Having a fair, accurate and complete census count is critical to ensure federal and state resources are adequately allocated to the communities that need it the most. Growing up, young people like me benefited from local programs and services – like education and healthcare – that could only be provided because of vital federal contributions, which depend on an accurate census count. Data from the census is also used to apportion the appropriate number of congressional members. An accurate census count ensures that our communities have the full representation we deserve.
An accurate census count also directly impacts the banking sector and the communities that financial institutions serve. The Community Reinvestment Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act collectively require banks to serve and invest in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities and not discriminate in their lending practices. These regulations rely on data from the census which captures the income level and race of residents. This data is then used to determine which geographic areas are considered LMI, as well as which areas have a high percentage of ethnic minority residents. Banks and their regulators use these LMI designations to ensure that banks are allocating an appropriate level of capital to these communities. It is essential for census data to be as accurate as possible and encompass all residents to ensure capital and resources from banks are being allocated in an equitable way.
On March 26, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form. This addition will add increased fear and anxiety in immigrant communities and will lead to an undercount of individuals throughout the country. For these reasons, Beneficial State Foundation supports the removal of the citizenship question to maintain the integrity of the census count.
We encourage you to learn more about this issue and submit public comment here before the August 7th deadline. Let the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau know that, you too, support removing the citizenship question from the 2020 Census form. Every person living in the U.S. has a right to feel safe and secure, regardless of citizenship status.
This blog post reflects the author’s personal views and opinions, and does not represent the views and opinions of Beneficial State Bank.