DC funding depends on 2010 Census mail-back rates
Studies show that the 1990 and 2000 Census failed to accurately tally the population, particularly the poor, children and minorities. As a result, these groups most likely lost programs and services that serve their communities. The failure of the Census to accurately count the District of Columbia's population seriously shortchanged the federal funding the District deserves to fund schools, roads, health facilities, housing, and other important services for people who were not counted. Thus, the Census is more than just "counting people".
In almost one year, households across the nation will receive the 2010 Census questionnaire in their mailboxes. One way to improve the count is to improve the mail-back response rate. The mail-back response rates indicates how many housing units returned a census paper questionnaire by mail. In 2000, the national mail-back response rate was 67%. The mail-back response rate for the District of Columbia was slightly lower, at 60%. A low mail-back rate reduces the accuracy of the census as well as drives up the cost of because interviewers must be sent out to households that did not return the questionnaire.
While the Census Bureau will most likely blanket the airwaves to raise awareness of the up coming population count, it is critical of local community groups to inform residents about the importance of the census. Survey evidence confirms that promotional efforts increased census awareness, motivated cooperation, and reached hard-to-reach population groups, especially among Blacks and Hispanics.
Local groups in the District can help promote awareness of the census. They can display and distribute census materials to allow individuals to practice filling out the questionnaire. Groups can also include information about the census in newsletters and mailings. Most importantly, District government offices and community groups can partner directly with the Census Bureau and receive critical information and materials regarding the 2010 Census. Census workers are currently in the field updating master address files and given the unprecedented growth in the District of the past five years, it is critical that the Census has an up-to-date address file. Otherwise hundreds of households will not receive the paper questionnaire and most likely will not be counted.
Regardless of the public's general feelings towards the census and surveys, an accurate census affects every individual and every community. It's not too late for District officials and community groups to start planning and promoting the 2010 Census. An accurate count will help the District receive critical funds, an especially important concern given budget deficits and the allocation federal stimulus money. Let's not let the District miss out by not completing and mailing back a simple, yet important, questionnaire.
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- Long-term closures: A solution to single-tracking?
- Metro policy for refunds after delays falls short, riders say
- M Street cycle track keeps improving, draws church anger
- Prince George's County struggles to get trails right
- O'Malley announces first projects using new gas tax money