Tri-cities lagging in 2020 Census responses

Tri-cities lagging in 2020 Census responses

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With less than two months before the Sept. 30 deadline for the 2020 Census, local officials say Richmond, Petersburg and Hopewell are on track to miss out on millions of dollars in funding for roads, education and healthcare because enough people aren’t filling out the questionnaire.

Census media specialist Tasha Chambers says Virginia currently has a response rate of 67 percent compared to a 78 percent response rate at the deadline of 2010. She attributes the success of the state to the launch of their online response at the start of the year.

“With the new internet response tactic that we’ve to implement, we’ve seen a tremendous response. Over 93 million households have participated in the census,” said Chambers. “But of course there are people still people we have to go door-to-door in order to reach them.”

But that still leaves about 35.5 million households without responses. There are over 101,000 households in Richmond of which less than 60 percent have responded.

“Cities such as Richmond, Petersburg and Hopewell are in the ’50s or maybe a little bit lower,” said Chambers. “Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover they are doing extremely well their response rates (and) are hovering around 70 percent or higher.”

In response, the census bureau is launching it’s door-to-door field operations as early as next week which was delayed for several months because of the pandemic.

Field operation will be more crucial this year because the government will be redistributing over $675 billion back into communities for services like hospitals, schools, community-based organizations, roadways, so those dollars come back into communities based on the population count.

Chambers says all field operators will be wearing personal protective equipment and will be able to take your information digitally from a safe distance.

But Chambers says door-to-door operations still have their hurdles to jump through particularly in the Tri-cities. She says distrust of the government, in addition to restrictions and fear of COVID-19, is keeping people from responding.

The deadline was also moved from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30 due to the pandemic which is providing more difficulties than ever.

“What difference will a month make? It will mean millions for localities just like Richmond just like Petersburg,” said 9th Councilman Mike Jones. “September 30 is just simply isn’t enough time to get the work that we need to be done.”

Jones says he’s calling on the city to shed its distrust and take accountability for the funding of its services

“The key is every Richmonder can take a part in this process of funding simply by filling out a 10-minute questionnaire; It’s harmless, it’s not going to send the authorities to your doors or anything of that nature,” said Jones. “We just need to get the true and right information out so we can get the resources that our city so desperately needs.”

If you haven’t responded to the 2020 censuses yet, you don’t have to wait for census takers to come to your door. You are still able to fill out the form online over the phone or through email until Sept. 30.

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