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Census response remains low in some local areas

By JAZMINE BUNCH

RCNH News Intern

North Carolina residents began receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census mid-March. Complete count committees have been working in Northeastern North Carolina to ensure that their rural counties understand the importance of a complete and accurate count, with one of the biggest factors at the forefront: funding.

“A lot of people don’t recognize that every person that we miss in the county equates to about $1,600 in loss revenue to our county, to the towns in that county,” Bertie County Commissioner Ron Wesson began, “and as a low-wealth community, we really cannot afford to miss any funding opportunities.”

Wesson is the Chairman for the Bertie Board of Commissioners. The county established a Complete Count committee prior to the Census, which Wesson said has been very effective, as Bertie’s response rate improved 10% from the week of June 15th to June 25th.

The 2020 Census is the first in history to be offered online, with the traditional options to take the survey by mail or phone. County representatives like Commissioner Leroy Douglas are hoping that citizens take advantage of this option.

“A lot of people mostly do everything on their phones or through email, so by being able to do it by phone or email it’s just another way of making it easier,” Douglas said.

Douglas oversees the Complete Count committee in Hertford County. The committee faced a slow-down due to COVID-19, but he anticipates a meeting soon to discuss new efforts to push the county’s response rate in this crucial Census.

“Right now, with elections coming up, there’s a chance for North Carolina to actually grab another vote for the presidential candidate with the electoral votes,” he said, “We really need to get this Census count right this time; it’s a lot on the line.”

Based on the data from responses received as of 6/25/2020, North Carolina has a response rate of 58%, ranking in the top 50% as the 34th ranked state in the country.

Gates County is ranked in the top 50% of the state at #32 with a 58.7% response rate.

Hertford and Bertie counties are tied for rankings at #71 with a 49.4% response rate.

Northampton is ranked at #89 in North Carolina with a 42.7% response rate.

Derek Dorazio is the regional representative for Census 2020. He said the early push was geared towards encouraging citizens to respond to the Census online or by mail.

“We were trying to get people to self-respond; our next step is to start knocking on doors beginning in mid-August,” he said.

Northeastern North Carolina towns have various rankings, listed below in order from highest Census response rate to lowest.

  1. Murfreesboro – 57.4%
  2. Windsor – 55.6%
  3. Jackson – 51%
  4. Gatesville – 50%
  5. Colerain – 48.3%
  6. Lasker – 48.1%
  7. Como – 47.8%
  8. Conway – 47.3%
  9. Ahoskie – 46.3%
  10. Powellsville – 45.1%
  11. Rich Square – 44.8%
  12. Woodland – 44.4%
  13. Harrellsville – 43.1%
  14. Roxobel – 41.7%
  15. Seaboard – 41%
  16. Gaston – 40.9%
  17. Garysburg – 37.7%
  18. Aulander – 37.1%
  19. Kelford – 35.6%
  20. Winton – 35.5%
  21. Lewiston-Woodville – 33.3%
  22. Severn – 31.9%
  23. Cofield – 30.6%

The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of the nation — who we are, where we live, and so much more.

The results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. They are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads and more services for families, older adults and children.

This data could provide the financial boost rural and low-wealth counties in Northeastern North Carolina need to improve, according to Northampton County Commissioner Charles Tyner.

“We need more funds in our county in order to compete with other counties in the economic world and in education,” Chairman Tyner said. “We need to do the Census so every dollar we can get, comes to our county.”

The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

For assistance or questions directly related to your county, you can contact appointed Complete Count/Census representatives.

Hertford County – Leroy Douglas 252-287-7320

Bertie County – Traci White 252-794-5336

Northampton County – Franklin D. Williams 252-532-0005

Gates County – Derek Dorazio 678-662-1582

For more information, visit www.2020census.gov.