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During a time like this, taking the census survey may not be top of mind. But it’s crucial not to let this fall through the cracks.

Each person who takes the census secures nearly $15,000 in federal funding for Idaho over the next 10 years. That’s a loss or gain of $1,473 per year based on whether or not you complete the questionnaire. Five to 20 minutes of your time could make that big of a difference.

The funding goes toward services such as transportation, schools, hospitals, Title 8 housing and food program benefits.

If anything, the COVID-19 crisis has shown us how important it is to support these critical resources so we’re better prepared to handle a disruption like this. But it’s not only important for times of crisis — these services day in and day out support children who rely on school meals or families who might otherwise have to turn to a homeless shelter.

The census count also ensures that we are well represented in Congress. Idaho is close to securing a third U.S. representative — probably not this census, but likely in 2030, according to a local Census Bureau representative. The numbers will also determine when Boise gets another representative at the statehouse.

The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting how the Census Bureau carries out its mission to reach as many people as possible and make sure everyone is counted. Census events and efforts planned at schools and public libraries and other venues have now been canceled or postponed.

Still, now that most of us are stuck at home, we should have more time to complete the survey. You can do so online, over the phone or by mail.

What will the survey ask? The census will ask about your name, gender, race, date of birth, phone number, number of people in your household (and the same details about them), and whether you rent or own your home. The census will not ask for your citizenship status or Social Security number.

Will my information be shared? The Census Bureau is legally bound not to share your individual information with any other entity for at least 72 years. The data will be used in aggregate form so your information is private.

What should I do if I live on campus? College students should complete the census using the address they live at most of the year — so their campus or off-campus home. Parents do not need to include college students in their household census. (The Census Bureau spends several months weeding out duplication.)

The goal is to have everyone counted by April 1. Please take this important step that will help support our community for years to come.

Our editorials are based on the majority opinions of our editorial board. Not all opinions are unanimous. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison and community members Tami Dooley, John Jackson, Chase Johnson, Melissa Morales, Jane Suggs and Devon Van Essen. Editor Holly Beech is a nonvoting member.

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