WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Tuesday marked the start of the most important surveys you can take over the next decade: the Census.
The U.S. Census Bureau has officially started their work in some areas. This information is important to the government, but it’s also useful for faith-based organizations.
Faith-based community leaders tell us that you never know the benefits you may receive just by filling out the Census.
Lots of folks might be a little bit hesitant to respond to the Census. Somebody shows up at your door asking lots of personal questions. You’re not sure exactly how you can respond, but working with faith-based organizations and other social services providers, there is already a relationship there. We have a real level of trust, so that when we speak with them about the necessity to participate in the Census, they really believe us and know we have their best interests at heart.Matt Phillips, Northern Director for Catholic Charities West Virginia.
Aside from Catholic Charities, these local organizations include Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Every children’s event that we have here at Vance, that has small children in it, we’re making sure that we have Census information that can go out with the kids, so that they are counted.Rev. Erica Harley, Senior Pastor, Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church
Vance is also making an effort to ensure that the homeless population in the Wheeling area are accounted for.
When we give out food from our food pantry, very shortly, we’re going to put information in there to make sure the homeless and under-housed populations get counted.Rev. Erica Harley, Senior Pastor, Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church
Local faith-based leaders are warning the public now so that they are able to receive the proper funding to take care of people in need across the Ohio Valley.
There’s about $675 billion worth of funding that flows from the federal government to these communities. Catholic Charities, and lots of other social services and non-profit agencies, receive a significant amount of their funding from local, statewide or national governmental agencies. If you don’t know how many people are in your community, your share of that might be decreased.Matt Phillips, Northern Director for Catholic Charities West Virginia.
Another reason the census is important in West Virginia: representation in Congress. The Mountain State currently has three seats in the House but if the population here continues to decline, West Virginia could lose one of those seats.