Nationwide, the mail-back response rate since the 2010 Census forms found their way into the postal system in early April has been 72 percent.

For the District of Columbia, the count was 69 percent, which according to Census officials, has made for a good response.

“D.C.’s mail-back rate was 3 percent higher this year than it was in 2000,” said Yvette Nunez, spokeswoman for the regional U. S. Census Bureau office in Philadelphia. “In general, responding whether through the mail -back phase – which is now over – or through Census takers, ensures that communities will receive their fair share of funding for schools, public transportation, hospitals and road.”

Nunez emphasized that it’s still of utmost importance getting the forms returned or taking just 10 minutes to answer questions from Census takers. Otherwise, “it will be difficult for us to plan for the next 10 years without knowing who’s being planned for,” she said.

In doing so, “We need to know how many senior citizens live in a community in order to know what kind of health care is needed and what kind of elderly services and how many senior citizen homes are needed,” she said. “We can’t plan for how many schools or classrooms or how many teachers to hire without knowing how many students will be in communities over the next 10 years.”

For example, during the 2000 Census, the state of Michigan lost a Congressional seat, and some $2 billion in state and federal funding, as a result of 50,000 residents being uncounted.

More than 600,000 Census enumerators took to the streets from May 1, targeting households that did not respond to the hard forms, and they are asking the same 10 questions that appeared on those forms.

In the District, at least 1,700 enumerators are going door to door early afternoons, evenings and weekends to collect the data, which includes the number of people living in individual houses as of April 2010, whether the home is owned or rented, occupants’ ethnicities, and their ages and birth dates.

Sylvia Ballinger, spokeswoman for the District area Census office, said however, that it won’t be until October that a final count becomes available.

“I want to stress that the enumerators do not enter the home,” Ballinger said. “We don’t ask Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers,” she said, adding that the information is kept confidential. “Which means it’s not shared with individuals or government agencies such as immigrations, law enforcement and the IRS.”

 

DorothyRowley

AFROStaffWriter