IRVING PARK — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is using video to urge Irving Park and Albany Park residents to fill out the 2020 Census, where less than half of households have completed the count.
The mayor recorded 31 videos over the weekend reminding people in neighborhoods with low census turnouts to go online and answer questions. Two messages were directed at Irving Park and Albany Park, with the mayor name-dropping neighborhood haunts to appeal to area residents.
The 33rd Ward includes parts of Irving Park and Albany Park and has 21,888 households. City data shows the 33rd Ward has only logged a 48.1 percent response rate so far — above the city average but well below the target of 75 percent.
“In the time it would take you to grab a pizza at La Villa you could have completed the census,” she said in the Irving Park video.
The areas with the lowest response rates are along Kedzie Avenue, between Addison Street and Lawrence Avenue.
These videos are being uploaded directly to neighborhood Facebook groups and other “hyperlocal” digital spaces, said Lindsay Evans, a senior policy analyst with the mayor’s office.
“The mayor wanted to speak to specific neighborhoods and this is an entirely new marketing method for us,” Evans said.
Census participation helps secure federal funding for things like education, child care, workforce training and health care.
The neighborhood’s new $23.6 million library and programing at Independence Park both were made possible by funding the city received based on 2010 census results, according to Lightfoot.
The state loses between $1,400 and $1,800 in federal funding per year over 10 years for every resident not counted in the census, according to Illinois Census Director Oswaldo Alvarez.
The state risks losing $195 million per year for each 1 percent of the population undercounted, Gov. JB Pritzker said during an April 1 press conference.
“Illinois only had a 70 percent response rate in 2010 and each year the state has gotten about $34 billion just based on our census count. Just imagine if everyone in the state had been counted 10 years ago,” Alvarez said.
Illinois is also projected to lose at least one downstate congressional seat due to population loss.
“An undercount in 2020 can lead to us losing even more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Alvarez said. “Count yourself in the census so you have more of a voice in both your local and federal governments.”
City data shows 47.5 percent of Chicago’s households have responded to the census as of Tuesday. Lightfoot’s goal is to have the citywide response rate top 75 percent.
“It’s definitely challenging to be able to support the census and get it going when we can’t have people on the ground knocking on doors,” said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th).
The 40th Ward includes parts of Lincoln Square, Bowmanville, Andersonville and Edgewater and has 25,210 households. So far its logged a 53.1 percent response rate.
Vasquez said his staff is asking residents if they’ve taken the census yet as part of his office’s neighbor network initiatives.
“It’s not much of a lift to see if they have and it’s been very effective in some parts of the ward,” he said.
City data shows areas of the 40th Ward with the lowest response rates are near the intersection of North Western and West Peterson avenues.
“We’re still pushing as much as we can to get to those areas of the ward that still need more incentive to answer the questions,” Vasquez said.
Data on census response rates across the state will be updated on a weekly basis, Alvarez said.
“It will allow us to see which community groups are successfully getting people to respond,” Alvarez said. “We can then leverage what we’ve seen are super effective methods to try to replicate that success across the city.”
Watch Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s video to Albany Park:
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.