College Towns Appeal for Help Picking up the 2020 Census Slack

As reported in The New York Times, “Reliant on institutions that once seemed impervious to recession, ‘town and gown’ communities that have evolved around rural campuses — Cornell, Amherst College, Penn State — are confronting not only Covid-19 but also major losses in population, revenue and jobs.”

That’s why the International Town & Gown Association (ITGA), National League of Cities (NLC), and International City/County Management Association (ICMA) recently wrote to Congressional leadership requesting assistance.

“As America experiences the harsh economic consequences of COVID-19, university and college towns also face another significant consequence: a Census undercount that could impact community quality of life for the next decade. We ask for your support to maintain an accurate 2020 Census count and help these communities.” In particular, the letter highlighted that, thanks to the coronavirus crisis, “large numbers of these university communities’ residents were absent on the day that matters the most, April 1, because many student-residents had moved out in March, when universities closed their campuses.”

The groups requested that Congress direct the Census Bureau to adjust 2020 Census methods to pick up the slack in university communities, and add “an Emergency COVID-19 Accurate Census Count Fund in addition to existing Census resources to allow communities with substantial shifts in their count, such as university communities, to directly apply for funds to complete a recount or take additional outreach actions to reach an acceptable response rate while socially distanced, such as remote ‘Get Out the Count’ activities,” as well as providing other financial assistance to university communities.