Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Improve your community: Participate in the 2010 US Census

LAKE COUNTY – Would you like to see services that government provides to Lake County residents improved?

Would you like to see area roads repaved and infrastructure upgraded?

If the answer to those questions is yes, there's a quick and easy way for you to help make that possible: Fill out your US Census form when it arrives this year and return it in the accompanying postage-paid envelope.

Census Day is April 1, 2010.

The US Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

The first complete count of the nation took place in 1790, when George Washington was president of the United States.

Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year, and to make decisions about what community services to provide.

Congressman Mike Thompson said local communities will lose $3,000 for every person not counted in this year's US Census.

Late last year Complete Count Committees formed across the country to spread the word about the importance of the 2010 Census and to motivate every resident in their community to complete and return their 2010 Census questionnaire.

Composed of local leaders, the groups are responsible for implementing census awareness campaigns tailored to their unique communities.

Supervisor Denise Rushing heads up the Lake County Complete Count Committee.

“Given the difficult economy, this is going to be a particularly tough time to get a complete count and yet it is vitally important,” Rushing said. “We need an accurate count so that we can secure our fair share of federal and state monies in key programs from Section 8 to food distribution to water system improvement.”

Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck, also a Lake County Complete Count member, said that other critical programs and services rely on accurate population counts.

In Lake County school districts currently receive approximately $4.9 million in funding through the No Child Left Behind federal programs, Geck explained. These are distributed on a formula basis and underreporting was a problem after the 2000 census.

As a result, funds to Lake County schools were reduced, particularly those funds for children of some of the county's hard to count populations, he said.

In March census forms will begin arriving at homes around Lake County. Everyone is asked to complete the simple, 10-question form and return it by April 1.

For those who receive their mail in a post office box, a US Census worker will visit their home to drop off the forms.

The 2010 Census questionnaire will be one of the shortest in history and consists of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect the confidentiality of respondents and the information they provide.

The Lake County Complete Count Committee has set out to raise the local response rate to the mailed US Census forms.

In 2000, Lake County tied with Calaveras County for a 54-percent response rate; only two other counties – Plumas and Sierra – were lower, with 49 percent, according to US Census records.

That meant lost services and lost opportunities for government funding over the following decade.

“Our local complete count committee is hoping to increase Lake County's return rate,” said Jennifer Hammond, an administrative analyst with the county of Lake and Lake County Complete Count Committee member. “Traditionally, Lake County has been undercounted and has one of the lowest return rates in the state. We are looking to turn this around."

For 2010, the group has set its sights on achieving a 65-percent response rate to that first mailed questionnaire.

In order to improve the rates, Lake County Complete Count Committee members are working to get the message out to hard-to-reach populations, from Spanish speakers to the homeless, from homebound seniors to those who don't have physical mailing addresses but, as in the case of thousands of Northshore residents, receive mail by post office boxes, to which the US Census does not mail forms.

In January, a US Census bus tour made a stop at Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino in Nice, and kiosks will be available around Lake County where people can pick up forms.

Complete Count Committee members also have set up Web pages on local government Web sites to share more information about the importance of the national count, contacted local postmasters and businesses to help spread the word, and shared their message in the local media.

“I urge those who receive Census forms in the mail to return them as soon as possible, but no later than April 1,” said Rushing. “For every 1 percent returned nationwide, the Census saves $85 million. Those who do not receive the forms can pick them up at a kiosk or a Census assistance center."

For more about the US Census, visit .


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