Beginning March 12, residents should have received a paper questionnaire or online invitation to complete the 2020 census, distributed by the U.S. Census Bureau. Data from the census, a population and housing count that occurs every 10 years, guides how more than $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year for services such as infrastructure, healthcare, school lunches, small business loans, nonprofit grants and more. It also helps determine how many representatives each state gets in Congress and is used to redraw district boundaries.
Though April 1 was officially “Census Day,” or the snapshot date, the census bureau will accept surveys through July. Everyone is invited to respond online, by phone or by mail this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic as officials look to limit the spread of the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus.
Several area municipalities have already begun urging residents to respond. In the city of Sugar Land, the response rate was 56.8 percent as of Saturday, according to the city’s website. Missouri City was at a 40.2 percent as of March 29, according to a report from Community Impact Newspaper.
“As one of the most diverse cities in the nation, it is critical that all ‘Show Me City’ residents be properly represented when the Census 2020 is finalized and presented,” Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford said in a news release. “So, the more accurate our responses and demographics are, the more our city will stand to benefit.”
Fort Bend County is in the process of recruiting residents to serve as community partners on the Fort Bend County Complete Count Committee, which helps raise awareness and understanding of the 2020 Census among residents. To apply, visit the Fort Bend County website at fortbendcountytx.gov/your-county/2020-census/get-involved. The city of Sugar Land has set up a similar committee.
The 2020 Census questionnaire should be completed by the person who owns or rents the living quarters or any other person who is at least 15 years of age with knowledge of the household, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Responses can be provided by phone or mail. Additionally, the bureau is offering the chance to complete the survey online for the first time this year. To complete the census online, residents can visit my2020census.gov/ and follow the instructions given on the website. To complete it by phone, residents can call 844-330-2020.
To ensure as many responses as possible, the bureau will typically dispatch census takers in the months following distribution to visit households that haven’t completed the questionnaire and conduct in-person interviews. From now until April 27, households who haven’t yet completed the survey will be receiving a reminder questionnaire and postcard in the mail with an invitation to complete it before the bureau sends an agent to follow up beginning in May, according to the bureau’s website.
Residents seeking more information or who have questions about the census can visit my2020census.gov/.