HOUSTON — Since U.S. Census 2020 kicked off earlier this year, it's been a mad scramble to make sure every single person in the U.S. is counted for. But it hasn't been easy.
"COVID-19's kind of changed the rules on us,” said Cathy L. Lacy, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau's Denver and Dallas Regional Center.
Due to the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has extended the deadline to fill out the less than 10-minute, 10-question survey until Oct. 15.
The extra time is good news for the city of Houston, which currently falls below both the statewide and national response rate.
If we take a closer look at the numbers, right now the national rate is 62.4 percent, Texas is 57.3 percent and Houston comes in below that at 53.2 percent, meaning only half of Houston households have completed the census so far. But there is a reason for that.
"There's a lot of diversity and hard to count places in the city of Houston,” Lacy said.
Those very challenges are why county and city leaders have been pushing for months to educate communities and drive up participation, through campaigns like “Say Yes! to the Census.”
"This information is the benchmark for all statistics for the next 10 years, so it's absolutely critical we get it right,” Lacy said.
The results of a census will determine how much of the hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will flow into communities every year. Funds that go towards building roads, funding school programs and healthcare.
It also determines how many congressional seats each state gets.
And for those who have yet to complete the census, expect a visit from a census taker soon.
"We hit the field on August the 11th,” Lacy said.
Field crews have been trained in proper COVID-19 protocols and will be wearing masks as well as maintaining social distancing.
Remember, you can complete your census by phone, online or through mail.
"It is easy, it's noninvasive, and the information that we collect is completely confidential," Lacy said.
For more information, click here.