Census Materials Now Available from The Arc of the United States

January 20th, 2020

The article was originally published The Arc of the United States in January 2020.

Every 10 years, the Constitution requires the United States to count the number of people living in the country. The census helps to direct more than $675 billion annually in federal funding. Census data is used by businesses, governments, and civic organizations to inform decision making about what services should be available in local areas.

The census asks every household to answer nine questions. These questions are: how many people live in the house or apartment, whether the property is owned or rented, phone number, name, sex, and then a few questions about the age, race, and ethnicity of each person. The answers to these questions are used to help enforce anti-discrimination laws, set federal funding levels, and much more.

Why is the census important to people with disabilities? There are two main ways the census affects people with disabilities.

  1. Census data is used to figure out how much money programs, state, and local governments will get from the Federal Government to pay for certain services. The data is used to allocate hundreds of billions of Federal dollars to states for Federal programs including Medicaid, housing vouchers, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and education programs. When there isn’t enough money, services and programs for people with disabilities can be cut.
  2. Census information is also used to figure out how many members each state should have in the U.S. House of Representatives. The number of representatives each state is allocated is based on how many people live in the state.

People with disabilities, people of color, LGBTQ people, people experiencing homelessness, and other communities are considered hard to count populations and face a higher risk of being undercounted. This means that the communities where these people live face a higher risk of losing federal funding and not having accurate representation. Every community benefits from an accurate census!

The Arc of the United States is excited to share new resources, including videos and written materials, to support people with disabilities and beyond in understanding what the census is, why it's important for people with disabilities, and how to complete it. Available materials include: