TEXAS, USA — Residents of Tom Green, Taylor and surrounding counties are encouraged to complete the Census 2020 form, online, by mail or by phone before the Oct. 31 deadline.
Currently, the Census is in the self-response rate, which means residents complete the form on their own; however, starting Aug.11, the Census will begin sending enumerators to solicit responses from those who have not yet responded.
Sherley Spears, president of the San Angelo NAACP Unit 6219 and Jay Hardaway, director of Census relations for the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, both agree that completing the Census form is important because it can provide monetary benefits for the counties as well as determine what additional services may be needed.
San Angelo/Tom Green County
"The problem with that is historically hard to count populations don’t really like for people to come to their home with clipboards and so forth that they don’t know," Spears said.
When this happens, the enumerators have to make an assessment of how many people are in that household.
Spears also said completing the Census form will determine which areas of the city are in need of services, such as affordable housing or day cares.
Currently, Tom Green County has a 61.6% self-response rate, which is very close to the national rate of 62.3%. Texas, however is only at a 57.2% self-response rate, therefore residents are encouraged to continue completing the forms throughout the counties and state.
The faith-focused weekend begins Friday, July 24 and Census organizers are using communications available to faith leaders to encourage their congregations to complete the form and inform them of the importance of doing so.
In addition to monetary benefits and additional services, Hardaway said many may not be aware of the billions of dollars in federal funds that are apportioned at the federal, state and local level, based on Census data, which include healthcare and education funding.
According to Hardaway, having an accurate count of how many people are in the area helps with representation at the state, federal and local level. Census data population also determines Congressional, state representative and state Senate seats.
"It is going to be a key determining factor in how your tax dollars are spent. and who is your voice in Austin and Washington," Hardaway said.
As of Wednesday, Taylor County is at a self-response rate of 56.2%, with the City of Abilene having a slightly higher rate, he said.
Data from completed forms is sent to a national processing center in Indiana. Census workers are federal employers and have taken an oath to maintain confidentiality. If the employee breaching confidentiality, it is punishable by a fine or jail time.
Census enumerators will have a badge and other information and will only ask very specific questions which can be found on the Census website. Census workers will not ask for credit card information.
Residents with concerns or questions can call the Census Bureau at 844-330-2020, visit 2020census.gov/ or contact a local county census official.