LITTLE VILLAGE — Census participation is lagging in Little Village, so a local alderman and community groups are joining forces to encourage residents to complete the decennial survey before next month’s deadline.
Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd), Enlace Chicago and U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute kicked off a 10-day initiative Tuesday to increase Census participation across the 22nd Ward, which includes portions of Little Village, North Lawndale and Sleepy Hollow on the Southwest Side.
As part of the initiative, Enlace organizers will answer questions and help residents fill out the census 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays during the 10-day challenge at the alderman’s ward office, 2500 S. St. Louis Ave., Rodriguez said.
Interns with U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute will also go to homes and give literature to residents over the course of the 10 days to remind residents to fill out the census.
About 41.2 percent of households have completed the 2020 Census across the 22nd Ward, according to the most recent city data. City officials are aiming for a 64 percent response rate in that area.
The U.S. Census Bureau counts the country’s entire population each decade as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The count provides critical data to lawmakers as they distribute billions of federal dollars each year, including funding for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources.
Traditionally, “immigrant communities fall behind when it comes to being counted for the census,” Rodriguez said.
The new initiative is the latest push to drive participation across the city, especially in hard-to-count areas which include residents who don’t speak English or are newly arrived immigrants.
Earlier this year, Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, along with community partners Enlace and Taller de Jose, created a dozen-car caravan that went through the streets of Little Village to promote Census Day.
Gov. JB Pritzker previously said the state risks losing $195 million per year for each 1 percent of the population undercounted.
Residents ignoring the survey, which takes about 10 minutes to fill out online, means their neighborhoods won’t get a fair share of more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other programs.
“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,” Illinois Census Director Oswaldo Alvarez said. “Just imagine if everyone in the state had been counted 10 years ago.”
Census counts also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.
Illinois is expected 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.”
The final date to fill out the census online is Aug. 14.
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