Chatham Co. cities trying to increase Census response rate

Chatham Co. cities trying to increase Census response rate

GARDEN CITY, Ga. (WTOC) - Out of Chatham County’s towns and cities, Garden City has one of the lowest response rates to the 2020 U.S. Census. That’s a statistic Officer Barbara O’Neal with Garden City Police is trying to raise.

“It’s slowly just going up, but I need it, I want to at least try getting 90, 95 percent,” Officer O’Neal said.

Officer O’Neal said too often, she encounters residents who aren’t even aware of what the Census is.

“Some of the examples we’ve run into is, I’ve knocked on the door and, excuse me sir, ma’am, have you signed up for the Census? Yeah, we did it last year. I thought, no, you couldn’t have done it last year, it’s once every ten years,” Officer O’Neal said.

O’Neal recounted another example, and said “Gentleman answers the door and I said sir, have you completed your 2020 Census? It’s really important. Sure, I did, he goes, do you want to see it? Ok let me see it. And he takes me to the rear of his vehicle, and he shows me his decals. And I’m like, no sir, I’m not talking about your registration, I’m not talking about voting. I’m talking about a population count.”

Chatham County sits just under the state response rate at 58.4 percent. Pooler has the highest response rate out of any Chatham County municipality at 66.2 percent, while Tybee Island has the lowest at 26.9.

“My message to all of the households in the viewing area, time is running out,” Atlanta Region - Assistant Regional Census Manager Marilyn Stephens said.

Stephens pointed out that citizens have had more time to self-respond before Census takers began following up, and more ways to complete the Census than ever before, with online, mail-in and over the phone methods. In addition to determining political representation and districting, Stephens also explained out the hundreds of billions of dollars distributed to communities over the next ten years as another huge reason an accurate count is so important.

“Everyone benefits from the resources. And no community wants to leave any money on the table. Every community deserves its fair share. And the question we should ask ourselves, will our numbers support our needs over the next ten years,” Stephens said.

Census takers have been out in the community for several weeks, so expect a knock from them if you haven’t filled out your 2020 Census.

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