City leaders work to boost census response in low self-reporting areas

Alabama Census response

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Underfunded and under-represented, this is what some city leaders say will happen if you don’t fill out your census.

Billions of dollars of federal funding is divvied up each year to each city and state. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said answering the census is not only your responsibility, but it also benefits you.

“Filling out the census means more tax dollars coming back to our community that can be used for community improvements,” Mayor Battle said. “The census makes sure the community is going to be represented better in Washington, in the state, and in the city. The money we send to Washington comes back in a per capita basis based on the census."

Karen Stanley with the Coalition for Justice through Civic Engagement met with our crews at zip code 35816, an area that has only a 44 percent self-response rate for the census.

Stanley believes lower response could be from people not wanting to put their information out there, or simply younger college age students not knowing they need to fill it out.

“What people don’t realize is that the U.S. Census Bureau is a very special and pocketed area of the U.S. government. It does not go to immigration or the parole office," Stanley said.

In order to combat this, Stanley started the Friendly Faces Campaign on social media.

In this campaign you might see your pastor, or even a city leader telling you why they filled out their census, and why you should too.

“People are leery because it’s a government project, but if they see people that they know and trust maybe they will participate," Stanley said.

You have until October 5th to fill in your census.

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