Only 49% of the households in the Fairbanks North Star Borough have responded to the Census. Officials worry this puts the area at risk for poor representation and government funding in the next decade. The pandemic has forced a change in strategy to get resident to complete the 10 questions on the Census form.
If you went to see a movie in Fairbanks in February or early March among the previews, you might have seen three Mayors pitching Census participation.
Sound from PSA
That was Fairbanks City Mayor Jim Matherly, Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward and North Pole City Mayor Mike Welch.
But as big gatherings in the local theatre became a disease threat, the Complete Count Committee came up with new strategies.
“So we’ve actually been doing some creative things…”
Alysha Childs is the Complete Count Coordinator. She and a committee of interested citizens had some hand-out materials made up, such fanny packs, phone holders, letter openers and dry bags for canoeing and kayaking.
“We had 100 of them. Sportsman’s Warehouse kindly gave those out.”
“We had little canvas bags and we put little activity books and colored pencils in them and we gave those to the school district and they handed them out to the kids getting lunches through them.”
The Complete Count Committee wants Alaskans to fill out the 10 questions on the Census, but people are waiting for an invitation, which they are expecting in the mail. And a lot of local households do not receive mail at their homes.
“Fairbanks has a much higher PO box culture than other places in the country, where it’s easier to get mail at your house.”
So Census workers were out dropping off invitations at people’s homes. Then the pandemic hit.
“They weren’t able to do that because of COVID, they had to halt operations before they had really gotten any out. And they’ve only just restarted, so not every household in the borough has received their invitation.”
If you haven’t gotten an invite, you might get one very soon, but Childs says you don’t have to wait. You can just go online at My2020Census.gov and enter your address. For those who can’t access the online form, the Census can be completed over the phone at 844-330-2020.