Our UAII Community Counts in 2020: Being Counted Will Bring Valuable Resources and Funding for Los Angeles

 

Something interesting happened in 2010. The census showed that in the ten years between 2000 and 2010, the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) in urban areas like Los Angeles grew by 1 million people.

 

Not only did the number of urban AI/ANs increase, but the overall proportion of AI/ANs in urban vs. rural areas also increased – from 67% up to 71%. This meant that for the first time in history, we learned that a majority of the 5 million AI/ANs in the United States lived in urban areas. Due to these census results, government funding for urban AI/ANs increased dramatically.

 

What will we learn in 2020?

 

If every AI/AN in Los Angeles County goes to www.2020census.gov and fills out a census form sharing their Tribal/ Native Nation, we might learn that even more AI/ANs have moved to Los Angeles and that our community is now in need of increased government resources in the form of improved development of health care, infrastructure, housing, workforce, economics, and education.

 

‘We Count’ census campaign graphic developed by Urban Indian Health.

 

The deadline for filling out the census form is August 14, 2020.

 

It is estimated that approximately 168,000 AI/ANs currently live in Los Angeles County, but many believe it could be much more. The only way we’ll know for sure is if every single one of us fills out the census form.

 

Why is the census so important?

 

Past undercounts of Native populations meant that AI/ANs were deprived of valuable resources. The census results distribute more than $800 billion annually in federal assistance to states, localities, and families like yours.

 

Census results affect schools, housing, and rental assistance, health care services, dental services, business investments and training, and so much more for our people. These funds depend on a fair and accurate count. We have been historically underrepresented. Together we can work towards change in 2020.

 

Native households can no longer risk being undercounted!

 

Image of Elder from CCUIH Census Promo.

 

Urban Indians have less access to health care than other Americans – but an accurate census count can change that. If we are not fairly counted, efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care will overlook us, concentrating instead on larger underserved communities in Los Angeles County.

 

Go to www.2020census.gov so that our voice will be heard!

 

The deadline for filling out the census form is August 14, 2020.

 

There are currently 41 non-profit programs like UAII nationwide. The programs are funded through grants and contracts from the I.H.S., under Title V of the Indian HealthCare Improvement Act, PL 94-437. Congress spends upwards of $50 million on these urban programs, but urban programs represent less than 1 percent of IHS’s $5 billion annual budget.

 

Urban Native-operated clinics are more sensitive to Indian cultural needs and have a better understanding of historic discrimination that can thwart appropriate health care. Urban Indian health organizations also create opportunities for urban Indians to practice our traditions and explore our cultures, which benefits our health. These organizations help clients obtain and keep government-sponsored health coverage; guide them through social service bureaucracies; and connect them to jobs, educational opportunities, and support services.

 

Organizations like UAII are the glue that holds our community together.

 

However, many urban Indians in Los Angeles County live long distances from our services. UAII can change that, and provide better transportation to our services, workshops, and events. But if the numbers are not there, the resources won’t be either.

 

California has more AI/ANs than any other state, but only 10 percent have access to Native health services. This is a tragedy, and we can change it.

 

What will happen if the Native community is undercounted?

 

Undercounting Native peoples in the 2020 Census puts Native-operated organizations like UAII at risk, and it results in Native peoples being denied a voice in policy decision-making. Our community’s needs may not be represented or prioritized according to our real share of the population.

 

Care, Education, Housing and Employment

 

Long before COVID-19 sparked alarm worldwide, our urban AI/AN community was in crisis due to decades of neglect, placing our community at greater risk of homelessness and housing instability, lack of education, and barriers to health care. Although the United States continues to work to address racial and ethnic disparities for the care of physical, mental, and economic health. Urban AI/ANs have been overlooked largely because we are undercounted!

 

In order to be included in future initiatives, census data collection must be fair and accurate, ensuring access to the services and high-quality care that our population requires to be successful now and in the future.

 

Please go to www.2020census.gov now, and allow your voice to be heard!

 

The deadline for filling out the census form is August 14, 2020.

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