The U.S. Census response rate is something that impacts all of us, and the clock is winding down for people to get theirs out.
The United States Census Bureau is reporting Tampa as one of the cities with the lowest response rates in the country. This could have a big impact on how much federal funding the Tampa Bay area receives.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total national response rate is just over 98 percent, but the self-response rate in Tampa is just over 63 percent.
The U.S. census only comes around once every 10 years to essentially do a headcount of how many people live where.
A low response rate locally could impact our congressional apportionment, as well as funding for roads, schools, hospitals and healthcare, along with hundreds of other programs.
Feeding Tampa Bay is one of those programs, and they're urging people to take five minutes to fill out the 2020 U.S. census.
“We’ve nearly doubled the number of neighbors who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and we cannot do that alone. It’s critical that we have government funding, alongside our nonprofit community,” said Mandy Cloninger, Chief Impact Officer for Feeding Tampa Bay.
Feeding Tampa Bay is a nonprofit that does so much for our community, especially during the pandemic, and they're trying to make an impact plan for the next several years.
“We’re planning for a 2-year impact. And those census, every person counting in the census is critically important to that, so that we can provide a more robust safety net,” said Cloninger.
Other programs impacted by how many people respond to the U.S. census in our region, include local Head Start and Early Head Start programs, like the one in Hillsborough County, which provides early childhood development and education; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; parent involvement opportunities; as well as family support services specific to men, women, relationships, and expectant mothers.
“We recognize from the last census that the children, especially within the low income families, Head Start, and children 0-5, they were so misrepresented because of this same reason,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Jenkins, Head Start and Early Head Start Department Director for Hillsborough County.
That reason being a lower response rate than hoped for. And the Head Start program has a long wait list.
“If we want to expand our operation, we need federal dollars to do this, and that’s where the census comes in,” said Dr. Jenkins.
Congressman Charlie Crist in Pinellas County is urging households to fill out their census, saying:
“Even a small undercount of 1% could cost our district nearly $7 million in federal funding for our schools, foster care system, and health insurance programs like Medicaid.”
The deadline to fill out the census is coming up on Oct. 31st.
If you still need to fill out the 2020 census for your household, click here.
You can also respond by calling 844-330-2020, or you can mail your census to this address:
U.S. Census Bureau
National Processing Center
1201 E 10th Street
Jeffersonville, IN 47132