As the U.S. Census clock ticks down, the executive director of the Designated Exceptional Services for Independence (DESI) grows more concerned that the developmentally challenged community will be underrepresented.
"Our families need to be counted, especially our people with intellectual disabilities," said Elizabeth Jinzo, founder of DESI.
Jinzo is worried an undercount will lead to a drop in federal funding for non-profits like hers. She says many of her clients don't have access to the internet to file a census response or just can't read.
"There are people out there who don't have homes, who are waiting for housing, people who need Medicaid services, food services," Jinzo told Eyewitness News. "It's really important for them to be represented."
To help improve its response numbers, DESI partnered with the Census Bureau. Twice a week the non-profit holds a food bank and the Census Bureau staffs a booth there, available to take counts.
"On a regular day we get about 75 families coming in, and of those 75 families I want to say about 10% of them are getting their Census forms filled out," said Jinzo, who is encouraging other nonprofits to do the same.
"It's not that difficult. The Census Bureau will come out and support you. All you need to do is make it known."