BY ANDREW HEISERMAN
*In the print version of “Census extended through October” published in the Rochelle News-Leader Aug. 5, the incorrect final day to respond to the census was published. The article listed Oct. 31 as the final day to respond and this was incorrect. The date has since been changed below to reflect the correct deadline of Sept. 30.
ROCHELLE – Beginning in mid-August, Census workers will be going door-to-door to homes that have not yet responded to the 2020 United States Census count.
Households that have not responded to the census count can expect census workers to begin showing the week of Aug. 10, between 9 a.m., and 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. Anybody 16 years or older may answer the census questions for the residence. If nobody is home when the census taker visits, a notice of visit will be left with information on how to respond online or by phone. Census takers will return several times, but if a household responds online or by phone the census taker will be likely to revisit the home. All census workers will have a valid government badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date on it as well as a handheld device to help the household respond on. If an individual would like further proof, he or she can call 844-330-2020 to speak to a Census Bureau representative for further identification.
Census self-response invitations were sent out in late March and community members have had the opportunity to respond online since. The final day to respond to the census count is Sept. 30 and the community is slightly behind pace compared to last year.
“The City of Rochelle is currently just under 71 percent as a whole that has responded,” assistant to city manager/city clerk Sue Messer said. “The self-response rate at this same time in 2010 was 73.5, so we are still running a little behind.”
The city suspects that COVID-19 is playing a role in the slightly lower response rate this year. Pending the COVID-19 situation, the city is also planning on holding census events leading up to the response deadline with more details being announced soon.
“Barring COVID, we still have plans to do several events through the remainder of the response time up until Sept. 30 when it closes,” Messer said. “These events will really be targeted at the hard to count populations or specific areas of town that are not responding as quickly.”
Responses to the United States Census are very crucial in determining the amount of state and federal funds a community receives. Every person not counted is a loss of approximately $1,800 per year, for 10 years, which is approximately $18,000 in funding per person.
The city is hoping it will be able to host census events in the coming months to help boost response rates and ensure the community doesn’t miss out on valuable funding. The city even has plans to sponsor a gift card drawing for those who attend and respond at one of the events.
“The city is going to sponsor a drawing for a gift card and we hope that will help bring people out as well,” Messer said. “Just as one more reason for people to come out and respond.”