SIOUX CITY, Iowa, (KCAU) – The 2020 census is quickly approaching and the success of the national headcount will come down to participation.

This once-a-decade census counts our population and households.

One of the goals is to properly distribute federal funds into communities and their programs based on that count.

When it comes to counting the homeless population, it can become complicated.

City of Sioux City official, Erin Berzina, said one of the city’s biggest challenges when counting the homeless population is gaining their trust.

“Many times they know the workers at the shelters that they stay in or perhaps the soup kitchen or other places they receive services, they might trust those people. As far as census workers, sometimes they will not want to talk to somebody they’re not familiar with,” said Berzina, AICP Planner for the City of Sioux City.

The City has identified several areas that have had poor response rates in the past.

This 2020 census will focus its efforts on those historically undercounted communities.

Their goal is to try and inform the homeless population about what a census is and the benefits it has on a community.

Pastor Paul Mahaffie has worked at the Gospel Mission for more than a decade. He said the homeless population in Siouxland has skyrocketed since the last census.

“We have been at full capacity just about all year long and that’s unusual. So the numbers have definitely increased for many reasons,” said Pastor Mahaffie, The Gospel Mission.

Berzina said the homeless population being accurately accounted for is an issue for everyone.

“I’m not sure what else can be done to get a more accurate count of our homeless population but I know that the effort is there and the outreach is there. We are doing our best,” said Berzina.

Service providers like the Gospel Mission can choose to report the number of people they serve during the “count period” from March 30 through April 1.

Berzina said it’s important to get an accurate count of the homeless population in Sioux City because they use some of the same services we all use. Some of those services include public hospitals, sidewalks, and roads.