• September 17, 2019

Census committee strategizing - Odessa American: Local News

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Census committee strategizing

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:33 pm

A committee of community leaders is laying the groundwork for a plan of action to ensure all of Ector County is accounted for in the 2020 census.

The first official meeting of the Ector County and City of Odessa Complete Count Committee was held Wednesday at the Housing Authority of Odessa office, and a combination of census specialists and county and city officials identified top priorities for the area in the coming months.

Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a population count of everyone in the United States. The next census will take place on April 1, 2020, but officials say waiting until next year to get the ball rolling will be too late.

The census data collected helps determine the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds annually and any inaccuracies could result in Ector County leaving money on the table.

“The City and the county are working together to come up with committees to find ways to reach everyone to get them to participate in the census,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton said.

Shelton said residents living in man camps, RVs or in West Odessa will be the most challenging groups to reach.

U.S. Census Partnership Specialist Charlene Romero McBride said West Odessa has always been an undercounted area and she estimated census numbers could fall 22,000 people short of actual numbers if the outreach problem is not resolved.

Shelton said mobile millennials who live in student housing or move often were also identified during a census training he attended as a population that may be overlooked, but fall into a similar transient nature of previously mentioned groups.

The census has established address canvass operations and timelines that focus on capturing those living in hotels or motels, RV parks, man camps and other transitory locations, but Romero McBride said it will take more than that to get the numbers right.

She said trusted community leaders will be crucial to dispelling misconceptions and explaining what Ector County has to gain.

A draft of subcommittees zeroing in on populations from those residing in man camps to senior citizens and those experiencing homelessness is currently under review as members confirm their ability to contribute to the headcount of various groups.

One of the most immediate decisions that is needed relates to marketing. The committee is looking to brand themselves as a recognizable group with a more concise name and logo to match.

Odessa Links Executive Director Erika Thomas said determining a marketing strategy and developing a master letter for the community would be one of the first steps needed to assist the group in communicating with a cohesive voice.

Other priorities included establishing a presence both on social media and at community events like the Odessa Code Enforcement neighborhood block party on July 20 at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1000 W. Clements St., to convey the importance of having a more accurate decennial headcount in Ector County.

Odessa, TX

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