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OUR VIEW: Oxford and Lafayette County must be counted in the 2020 Census

Oxford is accustomed to ranking near the top of the list in Mississippi as a great place to live, work and play. We post lovely photos on social media tagged with #wegettolivehere proudly showing Oxford as the place to be.

Our esteemed city is not used to ranking on the bottom rung of anything good, but that is where we find ourselves currently for our lack of Census reporting. As of last week, Oxford ranked 63 out of 63 for municipalities with over 5,000 in population. That is the bottom rung, dead last. Let that sink in a moment. When was the last time Oxford saw the city rank so low

Lafayette County ranking for filling out the Census was not much better, ranking 63rd out of 82 counties.

Oxford and Lafayette County, we are officially on the naughty list for Census reporting to date. We still have time to turn it around.  If we remain undercounted, Uncle Sam will not deliver what Oxford and Lafayette County rightfully deserve in allocation for the next ten years.

The urgency to fill out the Census form now is critical. Last week the  Census announced it will close the counting process early on Sept. 30. That is one month less than the normal Census process and is the opposite direction of where every other institute has been going as we fight the pandemic. Tax-day was moved from April 15 to July 15, school start dates are later, whole events have been cancelled. It is shocking to see the Census move in the opposite direction to close the counting process early to meet their Dec. deadline with regard to COVDI-19.

Fewer Census workers will be going door to door to count the uncounted this year. If you are used to seeing a Census worker from decades past, there will be fewer of them. They will be masked, for safety reasons of course, but they will not be able to go to as many homes as in decades past with the early deadline.

There is a lot at stake and it will affect Oxford and Lafayette County. It is estimated that for every person uncounted, $5,000 in funding is affected.

Here is a short list of funding that uses the Census to allocate resources.

  • Medicare and Medicare Part B
  • School lunch and school breakfast program
  • Highway planning and construction
  • Pell grants
  • Section 8 housing for choice vouchers
  • Title 1 school grants
  • Medical assistance programs
  • Special education grants
  • Head Start
  • School grants
  • Foster care IV-E

Do we want to come up short when these funds are distributed from 2021 – 2029? If not, every household in Oxford and Lafayette County needs to fill out the Census online https://my2020census.gov/  or call 844-330-2020. It is time to be at the top not the bottom of the 2020 Census count. We must turn this around.

Oxford and Lafayette County, there is no excuse to not be counted.