East Texas Leaders worry low 2020 Census response could affect future funding

Local News

EAST TEXAS (KETK) – After cities and towns were counted for the past six months, the census ended early, leaving mayors across the country concerned about the impact on local communities. East Texas leaders joined this sense of worry, saying an accurate count is vital for the future.

From door to door and mail left for you to open, asking for your information was part of the 2020 Census.

“The value of that information and making sure it is correct is just essential,” said Ed Boussard, Tyler City Manager.

Like many things in 2020, the pandemic pushed the usual count back. Originally set to end on September 30, forms in Texas had to be completed by October 15.

In East Texas, 60 percent of people responded to the Census, matching with the state’s count, but the numbers were still not adding up, compared to the Census count back in 2010.

“That kind of gives us a little bit of a pause and concern that the response rate being lower then previously. Now, pandemic’s don’t help, concerns and issues that we have the ability to get out there and to reach people where they are,” explained Boussard.

Local leaders aren’t the only ones worried. In a virtual event with bipartisan support, mayor across the country expressed their concerns about the impact of the Census.

“So there is a concern we wouldn’t get a full count, and that we would be undercounted,” said Alaina Chafin, the Nacogdoches City Manager.

The Census Bureau reported the response rate is at 99.98 percent nationwide. However, local leaders like Chafin said the biggest worry is past those numbers, looking at diversity.

“A large portion of our population are those who fall in that hard to count designation, identified by the Census Bureau. Those include college student,” said Chafin.

SFA students account for a major portion of the Nacogdoches population. When COVID-19 hit, many left campus, and attended school online.

“We were able to submit data for the on-campus students who were living here at SFA in March, pre-COVID before they sent them home,” Chafin told KETK.

The Census is used to determine how to distribute more than 1-trillion dollars in federal money, every year. It also ensures equal representation at the state and federal level, imp[acting services like healthcare, emergency preparedness, and new schools.

The next step in the Census, comes after the Bureau collects a full count. That information will then be presented to the U.S. President, then dispersed to individual states. Then, local regions will have a clearer picture of years to come.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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