Census Bureau to stop door knocking earlier than planned

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
United States Census illustration. (Credit: MGN)
Credit: MGN

The Census Bureau will stop knocking on doors earlier than planned because of the pandemic.

Getting an accurate count is critical to ensure communities get the government funding they need. A lower count also has other consequences.

How long census workers get to do their jobs is part of the coronavirus relief debate going on in Congress. Democrats want door knocking to continue until October and to push the final report to April. Republicans are sticking to what the law says: The final report is due Dec. 31.

The Census Bureau only comes to the door if a response, either by mail or online, hasn’t been received from that address. Their last attempt will be Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31.

“It’s casually coming to you and saying hey, are you accountable for where you’re at right now and who lives here? And that’s how funds are allocated,” said Brian Colando of Naples.

To be clear, the deadline to return your census form is still Oct. 31, but census worker Marilyn Stephens worries less time going door to door could mean there’s less of a response.

“In Florida, emergency management and emergency preparedness are huge. And here we are in the pandemic and those resources are allocated based on these population numbers,” Stephens said.

Right now, the overall response rate in Collier County is below the national average. In Immokalee, it’s 40% below.

Stephens said that in a week, census workers will start reaching out to households that haven’t responded. She said workers are also building new strategies to try and reach their count on time.

“We’re asking people who already completed the census why they think the census is important, to make their own post on their social media and use the hashtag 2020censuspushfl,” she said.

The Census Bureau said if Congress and the president do not agree to push the final census report to April, there’s no way it will be able to deliver an accurate count.

The number to call to fill out the census over the phone is 844-320-2020, or you can go to this website.

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