Multnomah County: Pet photo contest launched to boost 2020 Census

Multnomah County

Oregon's most populous county is getting creative to increase census counts during the COVID-19 crisis

PORTLAND, Ore. (THE OUTLOOK) — Multnomah County is getting creative with its efforts to increase the response to the 2020 Census — including launching a Census Pet Photo Contest.

Soliciting pictures of people completing census forms with their pets is part of a revised campaign prompted by restrictions in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

An accurate census count is important to the county, which is the largest safety net provider in the state. The more residents who complete and return the forms, the more future federal fund it will receive for social service and other programs.

To boost the count, the county had planned to participate in outreach programs targeting traditionally undercounted communities with group meeting and door-to-door canvassing.

“We want to ensure that every person in our county is counted,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, who is leading the county’s census efforts, said at an April 1 census event. “Unfortunately, there are many community members that are less likely to complete the census. Those folks include renters, seniors, non-English speakers, low income folks, communities of color and children. It also includes people who are experiencing houselessness.”

But such activities are now banned by the restrictions intended to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the potentially deadly disease.

“Pre COVID-19, our plan was to work with our county departments and community-based organizations to provide event support and outreach through the use of mobile census vans and onsite assistance. So like everyone else, we have reevaluated our strategy since all county non-essential employees are teleworking,” Stegmann said.

New efforts stress online activities and the new photo contest.

“If you live/work in Multnomah County, we want you to send us a fun or creative picture of you and/or your pet filling out the 2020 Census. By doing so, your photo will be entered into our contest and who knows maybe you’ll become an internet sensation!” Stegmann said.

“But wait there’s more — we have prizes that will include gift certificates from local small businesses and restaurants. So this is a great way to have some fun and support small businesses in our community.”

There are several ways to enter. One is to send pictures to multnomah.census@multco.us.

Another is to post to Stegmann’s facebook page.

Or you can tweet pictures to @loristegmann.

Learn more about 2020 Census.

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