HOUSTON - For the first time completing the United States Census is easier than ever but a majority of households in Houston still haven’t. This is the first time the census can be completed online but even as convenient as that is, less than 50% of Houstonians have responded to the 2020 census.
"You can shape your future by responding to the 2020 census” explains one of many advertisements.
The ads asking you to complete the census seem to be everywhere, even on the side of City of Houston garbage trucks but most have not responded.
"The city of Houston is at 47%. 47% of all households or housing units have responded to the census. We’re behind Harris county which is at 50%. Texas is at 51% and the U.S. total is 56.3%,” explains January Advisors Principal Consultant David McClendon who’s working with the City Of Houston to help come up with an effective outreach program.
"If only 1% of Houstonians fail to respond to the census that is a loss of $250-Million to Houston. The Kingwood area, District E, they reign supreme. They are number one in their response rates,” adds Sasha Marshall Smith the City Of Houston Lead Census Coordinator.
Smith is reminding us, completing the census will effect how much federal funding Houston receives for services and programs for the next ten years.
“For example, we all hate the potholes and we know that. Take the census because that helps get us road improvements and new streets. The census helps direct funding for pre-school programs, after school programs and for school lunches".
One way the data science consulting company January Advisors is helping is identifying areas with low responses. "Neighborhoods like Alief and Sharpstown, Gulfton and Westwood. There’s also some in Southeast Houston including Pasadena. McClendon says renters tend not to respond, as well as immigrants. “There is no citizenship question but just sort of the politics behind that have made some communities fearful or hesitant about filling out the census".
“By law your information is safe and it is secure and it is treated confidentially. Census information is not shared with any other government agency,” Smith adds.
Due to the COVID19 crisis census workers are not going door to door now but if you don’t complete the census they are expected to start showing up at homes soon to get as may people as possible to complete the census before the deadline at the end of October 2020.