Complete Count Committee regroups to improve Lansing’s census response rate

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Census phone numbers to be emphasized: 844-330-2020 (English) and 844-468-2020 (Spanish)

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (August 12, 2020) – For the first time since March 10, Lansing’s Complete Count Committee held a meeting to discuss ways to ensure that Lansing residents are accurately counted in the 2020 Census. The meeting was held outdoors, in the Fox Pointe pavilion, so pandemic-related social distancing requirements could be observed.

Members of Lansing’s Complete Count Committee brought their own lawn chairs and held a meeting in the pavilion at Fox Pointe. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Committee Chair Vivian Payne reported that Lansing’s response rate is currently at 72.3%. Response rates have suffered nationwide because census awareness events that depend on group interactions were canceled or delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Complete Count Committee had been planning, for example, a “Census Fiesta” at the library and other census celebrations at Fox Pointe.

In fact, the library had designated a number of computers to be used specifically for taking the census, and staff were to be trained to assist people who might be less comfortable with technology. But the library was closed three days before that training happened. Fox Pointe was also closed, and the stay-at-home order that was imposed on March 21 kept people indoors for the next 10 weeks.

Restrictions on gatherings are still in place, so the Complete Count Committee discussed other ways to reach Lansing residents who have not yet been counted. Anecdotal information from Martha Saines—a local census taker who has been visiting uncounted homes in Lansing—indicates that seniors are significantly under-counted, in many cases because they mistakenly believe that the census must be taken online. Online is just one of three ways Census 2020 can be taken.

The Complete Count Committee plans to use postcards and door hangers that emphasize the importance of participating and provide the census phone number:

  • To take the census in English: 844-330-2020
  • To take the census in Spanish: 844-468-2020

Census participation is important for seniors because those counts determine funding for senior programs such as Senior Wheels, senior lunches, the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP), RTA Reduced Fare or Ride Free cards, senior exercise programs, and a variety of informational sessions.

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