Baltimore kicked off its Census 2020 effort last night at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute with the Complete Count Committee, co-chaired by Baltimore Corps’ Fagan Harris, along with Phylicia Porter, of the National Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, and John Willis, former Maryland Secretary of State and current Professor at the University of Baltimore. Hundreds of Baltimoreans attended, and offered input on the action plan, the city’s living document chock full of ideas and strategies for how to make sure all of our residents are counted.
Attendees heard from many local leaders, including Ex Officio Mayor Young, Gustavo Torres, the Executive Director of CASA, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, Sen. John Sarbanes, and other leaders. The most commanding voice of the evening came, unsurprisingly, from Rep. Elijah Cummings, who charged the city to stand up and be engaged in the count, which will have effects for years to come. “We are fighting on the federal level,” he said, “but we need you to fight on the local level.”
The most important message we took away from the evening was that all people can and should step up and lead on the Census in their communities--and that the Census is anything but boring. We now know that for every person who isn’t counted we lose $1,800 every year for services that our city needs. Services like Medicaid and Medicare, SNAP, school lunches, community block grants--programs whose funding depends on population.
In the words of Sen. Mary Washington, “there is so much talk about who is leaving Baltimore. The census is our chance to show who is staying and how much we love this city.”