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By Eva Barrows                                                 Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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September 8, 2020                                   EPA Today Facebook page Follow epatoday on Twitter EPA Today Blog Icon


East Palo Alto self response rate - September 8 2020
Screenshot courtesy of https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates/self-response.html, where the rates are updated daily

At the beginning of September, 63% of East Palo Alto residents completed their 2020 Census questionnaire. This percentage tops the city’s 2010 Census final self-response rate of 62.5%.

The city's new response rate appeared in the official data reports compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, which can be seen online here.

In responding to these new figures, U.S. Census Bureau Media Specialist Josh Green said, “Every decennial the goal is to do better on self-response than the last one. The Bay Area rates in 2020 are better in most areas than 2010, and that's a result of a robust outreach program by the Census and more than 400,000 partners nationwide.”

While current  census participation rates compared to the last count ten years ago are certainly positive, census advocates stress that there is still room and time for East Palo Alto and other cities nationwide to close the gap in remaining non-response rates.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s ranking of the cities in San Mateo County showed that in the first week of September, East Palo Alto ranked 23rd out of 24 cities in the county in response rates; Pescadero was last with 49.4% reporting and San Carlos was first at 84.7%.

Although San Mateo County as a whole has already reported a higher response rate in 2020 at 77.4%, a 4.2% percent increase over 2010 at 73.2%, census advocates are still pushing toward the goal of 100% participation.

The response to the census has a direct effect on congressional representation and federal funding of programs and services all communities rely on.

At a press briefing on September 2,2020, San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said that it was shocking to think that “even a 10% rate of folks not responding to the census in this county…[adds up to] $76 million a year. It is an astronomical amount that could do so many things for schools and housing and all the needs that we have in this county. So really, every person does count, and we do need to have every person counted.”

George Washington Institute of Public Policy’s Counting for Dollars 2020 project found that over $115 billion federal dollars were allocated to California in fiscal year 2016, based on 2010 Census data. With substantial funding amounts at stake, local government leaders like Callagy and community partner organizations urge those who haven’t completed their Census to do so soon.

Census takers are now going door to door, through the end of the month, to follow up with residents, who have not responded to their 2020 Census invitations.

Community leaders are urging anyone, who is among the 37% of East Palo Alto residents, who have not yet completed their 2020 Census questionnaire, to take the time to respond online, over the phone or by mail before September 30, 2020, the day the 2020 Census ends.  Go to 2020census.gov for more information.

Eva Barrows contributes articles of special interest to East Palo Alto Today.