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As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, our nation gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities. With the Matanuska-Susitna Borough being the fastest growing community in the state of Alaska, it is vital that we get an accurate count of our population, and thereby, our fair share of those federal funds.
In preparation for the 2020 Census the Borough was inviated to participate in several programs. Each of these programs provide local data to the U.S. Census to ensure their records are accurate. These programs include:
Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA)
LUCA is the only opportunity offered to tribal, state, and local governments to review and comment on the U.S. Census Bureau's residential address list for their jurisdiction prior to the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau relies on a complete and accurate address list to reach every living quarters and associated population for inclusion in the census. The Census Address List Improvement Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-430) authorizes the LUCA. Census addresses will be available in March-April 2018 and is confidential data. Borough staff, using available data, updated the U.S. Census address list over a 120 day period in early 2018.
Participant Statistical Areas Program (PSAP)
The PSAP Process allows local governments to update the boundaries of Census Tracts, Census Block Groups and Census Designated Places (CDP’s) within their boundaries. Our current CDP boundaries closely follow the Community Council boundaries. This process occurs once every 10 years prior to the decinnial census. With the borugh continual growth, we had several boundary issues that needed addressed. Over the course of 120 days in early 2019, borough staff in conjunction with a consultant, provided recommended boundary adjustments to block groups and tracts whose 2010 census boundaries now pass through homes and other sturctures.
New Construction Program (NCP)
The Census 2020 New Construction Program will allow us to submit new residential addresses that were added to the Borough database since the submittal of our LUCA data. It requires that the addresses be associated with newly constructed residential structures or residential units that are under construction with an anticipated completion date prior to April 1, 2020. This will further ensure that the US Census Bureau has the most accurate Census Data available. This process was completed on time with the submittal of just over 600 new addresses to the Census Bureau.
Mat-Su Complete Count Committee
Over the past several months borough staff and the borough Manager have been meeting with staff from the City of Wasilla, City of Palmer, City of Houston, the Mat-Su School District, and local US Census staff in preparation for the 2020 Census. Our last meeting was on November 18. The goal of our committee is to get as complete a count of the Mat-Su population as possible. To meet this goal we have developed a united 2020 Census message, “Be Counted Mat-Su” and staff will be recording PSA’s for the local radio stations reminding our citizens how vital their participation in the US Census is.
The benefits of our Census 2020 Preparations include providing the U.S. Census with an accurate and complete list of the residential addresses within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough boundary. The accuracy and completeness of the address list is critical to the accuracy and completeness of the decennial census. a 1% undercount of borough residents could result in a loss of roughly $3.1 million per year in federal funding for schools, roads, health and social services programs.
Although the primary purpose of the decennial census is to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, census data are used to:
Pamela Graham, Planner I