The Census Bureau says the rate of return in Houston so far is 19-percent compared to the national average of 29-percent. Margaret Wallace is a Houston planning department official who manages the Houston Counts effort. She says there appears to be several reasons for the low return rate.
“What we’ve done is we’ve looked at where the responses are and what we’re finding is that a lot of apartments lagged behind residential single family homes. We’re hopeful that our efforts to go back out to the apartment complexes will be helpful. I think that many people are holding them until the very last minute. There’s any number of reasons why. What we’re looking at though, is how do we change that, how do we turn that tide.”
At a press briefing downtown, Houston state representative Sylvester Turner said residents should not be afraid to answer the ten questions listed on the form.
“It’s not information that’s gonna be used to put anybody in jail or deport anyone. Its information that’s needed to benefit people in this city. If you’re concerned about housing, fill out the census form. If you’re concerned about transportation, fill out the census form. If you’re concerned about your representation, fill out the census form. If you do not do that, if you do not do that, the only people that lose, will be the people in this city and the people in this state, and we will be at a severe disadvantage, when comparing ourselves to people in other parts of this country.”
Information gathered through the census is used to distribute more than 440-billion dollars in federal funding each year.
Once again, Margaret Wallace with Houston Counts:
“We are not asking intrusive questions. The Census bureau is not asking anything that your neighbor doesn’t know about you. This is not invasive, so it’s really important. So much money, so much elected capacity, everything is based on these numbers. I think that many people are holding them until the very last minute, perhaps maybe they’re bringing them to the event.”