CLEVELAND (WJW) — With the deadline just weeks away and billions of dollars at stake, the push is on to make sure everyone completes the 2020 U.S. Census.
With Cuyahoga County lagging behind and Cleveland ranked worst in the country for self-response among cities its size, new efforts are underway to increase participation.
A drive was held Thursday morning at the Salvation Army in East Cleveland to get more people counted.
“The 2020 Census is so important for your community’s future,” said U.S. Census Bureau Spokesperson Virginia Hyer. “It takes about ten minutes of your time and lasts for ten years.”
Census data determines representation in Congress and billions of dollars in federal funding for assistance programs, infrastructure projects, healthcare and more.
“We need to know how many people live in Cleveland, so you all get the political representation and funding that you all need to succeed,” Hyer said.
Three out of ten Cuyahoga County households have not yet responded. Just 49.4 percent of Cleveland residents have self-responded, and the city ranks last among U.S. cities with populations greater than 300,000.
Response rates are low in many neighborhoods on the city’s east side. The neighborhoods with the worst self-response rates compared with the last census in 2010 are downtown, down more than 14 percent compared with the same time a decade ago, and University Circle, down more than 17 percent.
“The census means resources. There’s no easier way to get $10,000 into the hands of our community than to fill out the census,” said Cleveland Foundation 2020 Census Project Consultant Juan Galeano, noting an estimated $1,000 comes into the city annually for each person who responds.
The Cleveland Foundation has provided $250,000 in grants to 66 local nonprofits for outreach, including events to increase participation.
Galeano said lack of internet access is a key challenge.
“The communities that own this process and make it happen are going to be the communities that benefit in the long run and this helps all of us,” he said.
The deadline to complete the Census is September 30.
The Census can be completed online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by mailing in the paper questionnaire sent to homes that haven’t yet responded.
Census takers with ID are also visiting each of those homes and taking precautions, including social distancing and wearing masks due to the pandemic.
The information is kept confidential.
“Your information is safe with the census bureau,” Hyer said. “We do not share it with local law enforcement or any federal law enforcement agency including ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).”
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