BY MARIE PULEO | POMPANO BEACH NEWS REPORTER
POMPANO BEACH: The deadline to respond to the 2020 Census is Sept. 30, and as of this week, nearly half of Pompano Beach households have not responded to the census questionnaire. City officials are urging all households to do their part to ensure an accurate count so Pompano Beach can get its fair share of federal funding for the next 10 years.
Census data is used to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to states and communities each year for a variety of needs, including hospitals, education, national school lunch programs, infrastructure and emergency services.
“If we don’t have a complete count, there’s a possibility we may not get the funding we need from the federal government,” said Assistant City Manager Brian Donovan, who is overseeing the City’s census initiative.
In addition, census results determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Florida gained two congressional seats as a result of the 2010 Census.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of Aug. 24, just over 50% of the households in Pompano Beach had completed the 2020 Census questionnaire using self-response options (online, by phone or by mail). On a national level, approximately 93 million (64.5%) of all households in the country had self-responded to the census. The self-response rate for Florida was at 61.1%.
Earlier this month, census workers began following up in person with households nationwide that have not yet responded to the census on their own.
In the 2010 Census, the total response rate for Pompano Beach was 68% of households.
An undercount of 14,600 residents in the 2010 Census cost Broward County approximately $21.1 million per year, or $210,970,000 over the last decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the private sector, census data is used by businesses to identify markets, select business locations, make investment decisions and assess labor markets. Nonprofit organizations rely on census data to apply for certain grants, and to better understand and serve the needs of their program participants.
In the past, the deadline to respond to the census was July 31, but earlier this year the U.S. Census Bureau extended the deadline to October 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then in August, the deadline to complete the census was rolled back to Sept. 30.
Daniel Keester-O’Mills, one of the city’s principal planners, has been working with the Pompano Beach Complete Count Committee to let the community know about the importance of the census, and to make sure everyone participates, especially in typically hard to count areas.
Last week, Pompano Beach residents began receiving text messages and prerecorded phone messages reminding them to complete their census form. The messages are in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
“We want to make sure we get our 50% response rate to near 100% between now and Sept. 30,” said Keester-O’Mills.
The census form can be completed online, by phone or by mail. The Census Bureau estimates that completing the questionnaire takes 10 minutes on average. Answers can only be used to produce statistics, and not for law enforcement purposes.
All Census Bureau employees swear a lifetime oath to protect respondent data, which, by federal law, is kept confidential for 72 years. Census workers are subject to a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a federal prison sentence of up to five years for disclosing, during or after employment, any information that could identify an individual respondent or household.
The U.S. Constitution mandates that everyone in the country be counted every 10 years.
More information about the 2020 Census can be found at www.2020census.gov.
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