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Every 10 years since 1790, the United States has taken a census of its residents. Now, it’s time again for us to make sure we are all counted. This year’s Census is quick, easy and confidential. But we need your help to move Harris County and Texas forward. Please complete and return the Census form sent to your home in March.

As president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, it’s my privilege and responsibility to encourage Census outreach all across our nation. But as Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner, I’m asking all Precinct 2 residents to join your neighbors and me in making sure you – and Harris County – are counted.

Your information is important to decisions that will make a difference for all of us. Every year, Harris County sends more money to the federal government than almost any other county in the nation. But if we aren’t counted accurately, we’ll get less money back than we should, since many federal funding programs allocate money based on population.

A complete count of residents means a brighter tomorrow for everyone in Precinct Two. The information the Census collects helps determine how more than $4 trillion dollars of federal funding will be distributed in the next 10 years. Please help our precinct get its fair share by making sure you and your family are counted.

Census data helps determine the amount of federal funds will be available for your city, county and state government to help protect our health, improve our quality of life and provide life-changing assistance to those in greatest need of aid. Just in Precinct 2, federal funds have helped in recent years with projects and initiatives including:

Our Precinct2gether programs for youth, seniors and veterans;

Federally qualified health clinics like the Pasadena Health Center;

Baytown’s New Horizon Family Shelter;

Early childhood education programs, along with other academic funding support for every local school district;

Millions of dollars’ worth of water, sewer and drainage improvements in communities like Channelview, South Houston and Galena Park;

Senior centers in Jacinto City and Crosby, and community centers in Deer Park, Galena Park and Barrett Station;

Playgrounds in Crosby and Jacinto City, a SPARK Park at Harlem Elementary in Baytown, and a swimming pool in Galena Park;

Road and bridge construction and maintenance across the precinct, including La Porte’s North Second Street Project.

Transportation services like Pasadena and Baytown Park & Ride.

In the past years, Harris County has invested more than $81.5 million in federal funds for projects in Precinct Two. Census data helped us get that money, and it helped many of our local cities get federal assistance as well. Businesses and individuals also use information from the Census to identify places where they can find workers and customers.

Every person counted represents at least $13,000 in federal funds coming to Harris County in the next ten years or $52,000 for a family of four. Bottom line, every person counted means more funds coming from Washington to get projects done in Precinct Two.

In short, the Census is a snapshot of America – make sure you are not left out. We need you to be counted, even if you are not a citizen. By U.S. law, the Census Bureau cannot share your answers with anyone, including other government agencies. Please fill out your Census form and mail it back. It’s just 10 questions, and should only take you 10 minutes to complete. Let’s make sure Harris County and Precinct Two are counted. Our future depends on you.

Sylvia Garcia is Harris County Commissioner for Precinct 2, which includes most of east Harris County, including Pasadena, South Houston, Deer Park and La Porte.