The 2020 Census will be a mostly online event. To help people in northeast Oregon who might not have ready access to a computer and the Internet, Community Connection will be able to help them access and complete the census forms. Completing and submitting the census form is required by law for everyone residing in the U.S.

“We will be offering that service at our senior centers in Baker City, John Day, La Grande and Enterprise during regular business hours during the census, April 1 to July 24,” said Margaret Davidson, CEO of Community Connection in La Grande. “Largely, we’ll be helping people who might not be inclined to complete the forms, or who can’t access them.”

That includes low-income households, households with children younger than 5, those without a computer, people with disabilities and people who just need help wading through and completing the online questionnaire.

“We’ll have bilingual people available to help as well,” she said, “and if we need to find someone with special language skills or knowledge to help, we will.”

Help will be available in many places and at venues and events outside the Community Connection centers as well, Davidson said.

“We’ll be taking laptops or tablets to a lot of events,” she said.

While there’s no specific list of those events yet, they will probably include things like farmers markets, the library, and even rodeos.

In-home appointments and pop-up style outreach at other locations, such as farmers markets, libraries, clinics, social services offices, food pantries and others also will be conducted, many on weekends and evenings.

Throughout the grant period, Community Connection anticipates assisting more than 1,000 people with filling out the census. The results will allocate billions of dollars in federal funding to local communities over the next decade.

Many key safety net programs are funded via the census data including energy assistance, SNAP, school lunches, Section 8 housing, Head Start, Pell grants, short-term rental assistance, medical assistance programs and more.

According to the Census Bureau, Oregon’s population has grown by 8.1 percent since 2010. If the current population estimates hold, Oregon stands to gain increased federal assistance and an additional congressional seat if the state is able to achieve an accurate count.

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