Neighborhoods in Boston, especially Roxbury, are facing rapid change, and the 2020 Census is an important chance for us to voice what our communities need for greater stability. Data from the decennial census helps secure $40 million in federal funding for Boston Public Schools and resources for nonprofits like Action for Boston Community Development to provide 7,000 households with heating during the harsh New England winter. Every commuter on public transportation or driver on congested roads knows that our infrastructure needs as much investment — federal and local — as possible.
Many of our neighborhoods are at risk of an undercount. Sixty-three percent of Boston residents live in hard-to-count census tracts, which had low response rates in the 2010 Census. Dorchester and Roxbury have the highest concentration of hard-to-count census tracts due to the high number of renters and transient nature of our community with the influx of students and new families entering the area. Another reality is the current national political climate of fear and distrust means that these response rates could be worse in 2020. An undercount in the 2020 Census will have profound negative effects on our community, including exacerbating our housing crisis if funding levels don’t match the real need. Programs like SNAP and WIC are also at risk if an undercount occurs.