2020 Census Update: Sign of the Times and Response Rates
If you noticed a MY2020CENSUS.GOV sign while sitting at a busy traffic intersection in your community, then the sign is doing its job. Westchester County has ramped up its 2020 Census outreach to raise awareness and hopefully increase response rates by residents in all of its municipalities. County Executive George Latimer said, “Our focus may have shifted these past few months in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, it is still critical that all Westchester County residents participate in the 2020 Census. An accurate population count will provide Westchester County with the opportunity to receive billions of dollars in state and federal funding that can be used for our schools, infrastructure, roads, hospitals, fire departments, and after school programs.” Westchester County’s 2020 Census Response Rate of 64.1% is ahead of the U.S. (63.1%) and New York State (58.9%). However, it is also behind the County’s 2010 Response Rate of 67.9%. The additional outreach will focus on increasing response rates in hard-to-count areas within each of the County’s 43 municipalities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “age, housing status, and language are factors that can influence response rates in the hard-to-count areas. COVID-19 has added new factors which might influence response rates; specifically, households without computers or homes with inadequate internet access.” To count those households, Census workers will conduct door-to-door visits, wearing official U.S. Census Bureau identification, and masks to prevent spreading the coronavirus. The Census Bureau plans to finish counting the population by the end of September, a month earlier than expected, so it can analyze and report the data to Congress by December 31, 2020. As a result, the 2020 Census might not accurately count everyone before the year-end deadline. In the HEROES Act, the U.S. House of Representatives proposed extending the reporting period to April 2021, which would allow more time for the count. The U.S. Senate has not advanced the HEROES Act; and its coronavirus relief bill, the HEALS Act, does not include language about the deadline. There are political and economic implications from a census undercount. Marginalized populations will be further disenfranchised from the electorate and disproportionately left out of the allocation of public funds. Help Westchester County avoid an undercount. Complete the 2020 Census online (my2020census.gov), by phone (1-844-330-2020/English and (844) 468-2020/Spanish), or by returning your Census form by mail. Respond to the signs and the 2020 Census during this unprecedented time. Make Us Count!