A fake news scandal has erupted regarding grants for promoting the upcoming U.S. Census here in Santa Ana. It has been reported that the County of Orange has chosen not to give such grants to the SAUSD and the City of Santa Ana as some sort of payback because of a proposed homeless shelter. As usual it turns out there is far more to this story – that has not been reported.
Did you know that the Federal grants to market the Census were allocated in 7 Zones? Santa Ana was looped in with Tustin in Zone 5. Here are the O.C. Zones:
- Fullerton, La Habra, *Buena Park, *Placentia
- Anaheim, *Buena Park, Orange, *Placentia, *Stanton
- Garden Grove, *Stanton
- Santa Ana, Tustin
- Costa Mesa, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Seal Beach, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach
The County of Orange received $1,555,519 from the California Complete Count office, with $699,983 set aside for outreach and the remainder set aside to cover promotional and outreach materials, media and advertising campaign, the establishment of Question Assistance Centers and Non-Response Follow Up plan, and personnel. The focus of this money is to reach what are referred to as Hard to Count (HTC) populations.
Why would the County of Orange pay the City of Santa Ana and the SAUSD to reach the HTC populations in Zone 5 when those agencies do not extend into Tustin, which, as noted above, is part of Zone 5?
Furthermore HTC, many of whom are immigrants, are unlikely to trust a government agency when filling out a census form because of the fear of deportation, as noted by Supervisors Andrew Do and Doug Chaffee.
What the County opted to do instead was to find “boots on the ground” trusted messengers in the 7 zones. Here is how the grants were allocated originally in the 7 zones, by the evaluation committee:
- Multi-Ethnic Collaborative Community Agencies (MECCA)/Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights/Vision y Compromiso
- Altamed Health Services Corporation (Altamed)/MECCA/Vision y Compromiso
- Community Action Partnership of Orange County
- Santa Ana Unified School District/City of Santa Ana
- Latino Health Access/MECCA
Given that zone 5 includes the city of Tustin and the goal is to reach as many of the HTC population as possible through community based trusted messengers the evaluation committee’s recommendation for Zone 5 was reconsidered. It was recommended that the Zone 5 grants be awarded to community based organizations for a total of $265,877. Here are the organizations that got the revised grants:
- Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies (MECCA)
- Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)Vision y Compromiso
- AltaMed Health Services Corporation (AltaMed)/MECCA/Vision y Compromiso
- Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAP-OC)
- AltaMed/Latino Health Access/MECCA/CHIRLA/Vision y Compromiso
- Latino Health Access/MECCA
By the way, the community based organizations that were selected for all the other zones were all non-profits – no city or school districts got the grants. Don’t feel bad for the City of Santa Ana and the SAUSD. Did you know that both of these agencies already got grants from the Feds to promote the Census? There is no scandal here folks, just sensationalized reporting.
The Federal Government identified the following populations as the Hard to Count (HTC):
• Young children
• Highly mobile persons
• Racial and ethnic minorities
• Non-English speakers
• Low income persons
• Persons experiencing homelessness
• Undocumented immigrants
• Persons who distrust the government
• LGBTQ persons
• Persons with mental or physical disabilities
• Persons who do not live in traditional housing
Importance of the Census
Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Orange County benefits the most when the census counts everyone. When you respond to the census, you help Orange County gets its fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds for programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, Head Start, and Highway Planning and Construction. The top five programs by amount of funds that used census-based population numbers and population characteristics to determine fund distribution in fiscal year 2015 were: Medicaid ($311 billion); the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP $71 billion); Medicare Part B ($70 billion); Highway Planning and Construction ($38 billion); and the Federal Pell Grant program ($29.9 billion), according to a Census report (for a full listing of programs see page 3 here.)