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Wash and be counted: Free laundry exchanged for census

September 21, 2020 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — The census came with a tumble dry.

Community groups in Chicago offered two loads for free Sunday if customers at a coin laundry filled out census forms.

“If we don’t fill it out, we lose the millions (of dollars) of funding that is necessary for our communities,” said Frances Velez, a volunteer at Mujeres Latinas en Accion — Latina Women in Action — who held a sign with the offer.

Illinois has a 70% census response rate so far, but Chicago is at 60%. The deadline to fill out forms is at the end of the September. There’s a big push to get minorities to participate.

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Velez assured people that there are no questions about citizenship status, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“Filling out the census is as important as any protest,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker told a mostly Black congregation at Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago. “It’s a demand to be fully heard.”

Jose Lara, a truck driver who lives in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, filled out the census and accepted his two free laundry loads.