Op-Ed | Get Counted, Philly

Tumar Alexander, Acting Managing Director, Philly Counts 2020 (PROVIDED)

By Tumar Alexander, Acting Managing Director, Philly Counts 2020

I believe in our city. I am inspired by the resilience and compassion I see as people come together and support one another in this unprecedented time of social unrest, an economic crisis, and a global pandemic. Philadelphia is strong and I am honored and humbled to serve as the Acting Managing Director as we work to address the historic and persistent challenges of poverty.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia. As a resident and a public servant, I have witnessed the struggle many of our communities go through. Many of the problems we face today are not new, and have only intensified with the challenges that the past several months have brought. I am committed to bringing positive change in our city, but it will take all of us working together to make that happen.

To implement measures that meaningfully reduce poverty, we need to provide resources that help people get back on their feet in a sustainable way. In order to implement these programs and provide these much needed resources, we need every single dollar we are owed from the federal government. There’s only one way to ensure that we get the resources our city deserves—and needs, and that’s by having every household in Philadelphia complete the 2020 Census.

I believe that every young person deserves services and programs to give them a fighting chance to succeed. Access to a good education, vocational training programs, and creating safe places to learn are crucial to repairing the damage caused by generations of disinvestment into our communities. Access to healthcare, education, food — these are basic human rights. We need the proper funding to support programs that provide opportunities for people to not just survive but to thrive. That means that we need to get every person counted in Philadelphia before the end of September, and we have a lot of work to do to get there.

In addition to the funding implications, the census impacts government representation at every level. Population is used to allocate how many representatives each state has in Congress – determining how much power our state has at a federal level. The decisions our representatives make directly impacts the resources and programs many of us use every day. To truly harness our civic power and ensure we get the representation we deserve, we need every Philadelphian to be counted in the census. An accurate count in the census is critical or we face a severe threat to our democratic process and our social services will suffer.

I have heard concern from many in our communities about the security of their information. The 2020 Census does not ask for citizenship status, and our constitution strictly prohibits the federal government from doing anything with the information collected in the census for any reason other than statistical purposes such as allocating representation and federal funding. The information in your response can never be used against you, and will remain confidential for 72 years. Philadelphia is a richly diverse city and we celebrate our immigrant communities and recognize the value they bring to our city’s culture and economy. If you live in Philly, you count in Philly – regardless of immigration status.

So the bottom line is — the census is important, easy, and needs to be completed today. It only takes a few minutes to make sure that your household is counted, and it will have a meaningful impact on your community and our city for the next ten years. Go to www.2020census.gov or call 1-844-330-2020 and complete your census today. Together we can shape a bright future for Philadelphia!

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