Report: Illinois should spend $33M to promote 2020 Census

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The state of Illinois should spend $33 million for community leaders to spread word about the 2020 census, the Chicago Urban League said in a report.

Illinois could lose billions of dollars in federal funding and one or two congressional seats if there's an undercount next year, the Chicago Tribune reported. An undercount happens when the census counts a smaller number of people or homes in a population than shown by an independent estimate.

The Chicago Urban League, which advocates for financial, educational and social advancement of African Americans, calculated the number in its report by using California's formula for the amount it is spending on the census per resident, said Kathie Kane-Willis, the league's director of policy and advocacy.

"It's a divisive time, it's a difficult time, it's a distrustful-of-everything time and so that's why it's so important, so important," Kane-Willis said. "I cannot emphasize the importance of this to make sure that we count everyone."

The $33 million that the group wants Illinois to allocate for census efforts is just a fraction of how much money the state could lose if there's an undercount, Kane-Willis noted. She said the league created the report as an educational tool for community organizations and elected officials.

The report uses statistics analyzed by the George Washington University's Institute of Public Policy that found at least $34 billion in federal subsidies for programs that directly benefit Illinois residents is tied to census figures.

The league notes that Chicago and Illinois have been losing residents, and so it is vital for the state to spend money to protect against an undercount.

"Both the city and the state have been experiencing population loss in recent years, due in part to limited resources and opportunities in many communities," Barbara Lumpkin, interim president of the Chicago Urban League, said in a statement. "Adequate funding will be essential to ensuring an accurate census count and, therefore, helping to make communities more livable, stem population loss, and attract more people to our state."