Mayor gears up for 2020 Census

Government funding depends on accurate population count

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By Maria Maxham

With the U.S. Census just around the corner, Mayor Rory Hoskins wants to make sure as many people as possible in Forest Park respond. 

According to the Population Reference Bureau (PBR), an accurate census count affects fair policymaking and distribution of resources on state and local levels, including apportionment in the House of Representatives, redistricting, monies distributed to states and localities, and emergency response.

Of these, the one that appears to have the most immediate and local impact is money distributed to municipalities. According to the PBR, "Census totals help determine the amount of funding that state governments and local communities receive from the federal government for the next decade." This funding includes programs such as infrastructure and highway planning and construction, special education grants, national lunch programs and Medicaid, among others.

Hoskins has been working with the Complete Count Committee, a Forest Park group whose goal is to promote the census and is headed by Allen Serrano, who said that recently the Proviso Township received a $225,000 grant that will at least in part reimburse Forest Park for expenses related to promotion of the census.

Hoskins plans to have promotional materials created to remind people of the importance of the census; he'd like to distribute these items at spring events around town, such as the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"We're thinking about bottle openers," said Hoskins. "We want something to hand out that people can take home, that will remind them to respond to the census requests when they're received."

Hoskins is also partnering with Triton College's Department of Engineering to help promote the census in Forest Park. The department head will have her students create artwork that says "Census 2020". These metal sculptures will be displayed in prominent locations around town, and Hoskins anticipates they'll appear on Forest Park streets by mid-February.

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