PHOENIX - Results from the 2020 Census, which were released on April 26, stunned observers in Arizona, after it was revealed that the Grand Canyon State did not gain a congressional seat, and the counted state population of 7.15 million people was less than anticipated.
"I was really surprised when the numbers came out," said Dave Richins with the United Food Bank.
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There are two schools of thought on what happened: either the state's population is just less than projected, or not enough people participated, resulting in an undercount. No matter what, the outcome affects not just the state's bottom line, but also countless nonprofit organizations that rely on federal money.
Nonprofits say census numbers could impact budget
As the COVID-19 pandemic waged war on Arizona, the United Food Bank held drive-thru distributions to help families struggling to get by another day. They are now one of many nonprofits left wondering how low census numbers will impact their budget.
"Hundreds of thousands over the course of a decade," said Richins. "It really could."
Federal dollars are often disbursed by formulas based on population. News of the lower-than-projected population count for Arizona could mean less money all-around. Richins says 20% of their funding comes from federal dollars.
"Cities, nonprofits we work in collaboration to deliver those federal programs to our residents, so it's going to impact both of us from the funding side and receiving side," said Richins.
Other projects could feel the pinch as a result
The Census' impact could be felt beyond the nonprofit sector. On the morning of April 27, Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission met to review how to determine the next congressional district map.
In the meantime, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who believes the state's population was undercounted, says the state's infrastructure projects could also feel the impact.
"When we pass a billion-dollar, trillion-dollar infrastructure project, some of that's going to be based on formulas. Population formulas," said Rep. Gallego. "We’re going to lose money just there."
Richins says they will start to know the real impact once the Census reveals all of their population data later this year.
"We're going to pay attention as the additional numbers come out," said Richins.
FOX 10 reached out again on April 27 to the team in charge of the Census in Arizona, the Complete Count Committee, but members of the committee didn't respond. In a statement released on April 26, officials with the committee say they counted 99.9% of all households.
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