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Census Response In Dallas County And The City Lagging Behind Other Areas In Texas

In this June 25, 2020, file photo, two young children hold signs through the car window that make reference to the 2020 U.S. Census as they wait in the car with their family at an outreach event in Dallas.
Tony Gutierrez
/
Associated Press
In this June 25, 2020, file photo, two young children hold signs through the car window that make reference to the 2020 U.S. Census as they wait in the car with their family at an outreach event in Dallas.

The campaign to get more Dallas County residents counted in the 2020 census is ramping up its efforts. Local elected officials, community leaders and volunteer groups have about five weeks left to get the word out.

The effort known as Dallas County Counts will zero-in on Census tracts in Oak Cliff, West Dallas and northeast Dallas. It will also reach out to residents in Irving, Mesquite and other communities that are traditionally hard-to-count.

Dallas County’s Census response rate has lagged behind other areas around the state. So far, about 60% of people in Dallas County have filled out a Census form.

In July, data showed 53.8% of City of Dallas households had filled out census forms compared to 58.9% of households in Fort Worth.

The City of Dallas' response rate was below other North Texas cities as well, including Irving (54.7%), Arlington (61.9%), Grand Prairie (60.5%) and Garland (63.6%).

One reason state and local officials want the count to be as accurate as possible is it helps determine the amount of federal funding sent to states.

Dennis Johnson is deputy regional director for the census. He said he understands there’s a lot on people’s minds these days, like COVID-19, but neglecting your census form can have long-term effects.

“I think just getting the word out to folks through any avenue we have, letting people know that what we do right now is not just impacting us during this pandemic, but it’s gonna affect them over the next 10 years,” Johnson said.

Funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), highway planning and construction, plus grants to local education agencies are all influenced by census numbers.

In March, door to door canvassing was suspended due to coronavirus. The Dallas County Counts plan now includes canvassing more than 100,000 people.

The campaign will try and reach them in person, but will also call residents, text them, send mailers and use social media ads to promote the census deadline.

The deadline to respond to the census is Sept. 30.