WXXI AM News

2020 Census

Have you filled out your 2020 census form? According to records, just 48 percent of Rochester residents and 64 percent of Monroe County residents have responded to the survey. The Democrat and Chronicle reports that Rochester has the nation’s fourth worst response rate of any medium or large-sized city. Why does it matter? Community leaders are urging households to complete the form because the data collected determines congressional representation, the allocation of federal dollars, decisions related to local development projects, and more.

This hour, our guests discuss how the digital divide and the pandemic have affected census response rates, and the short and long-term impacts of not having accurate information. Our guests:

  • Jeff Behler, New York regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Ana Liss, director of the Monroe County Department of Planning and Development, and executive director of the Monroe County IDA and IDC
  • Miguel Meléndez, chief community engagement officer for Ibero-American Action League
  • Simeon Banister, member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group, and vice president of community programs at the Rochester Area Community Foundation

Provided / U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. census plays a heavy role in determining how much federal money comes into different communities. 

In order to get the most accurate numbers possible, nonprofits that are part of the Rochester-Monroe Complete Count Committee are pumping efforts to get more people to fill it out. 

Causewave’s Rashad Smith said only 47 percent of city of Rochester residents have completed the census so far. 

Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

The U.S. census, that constitutionally mandated once-a-decade count of every resident, is still being conducted this year -- though it’s not going according to plan.

Jim Malatras with the New York State Complete Count Commission said the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected what was already a difficult year for the 2020 census. 

He said he doesn’t believe that the federal government had done enough before the pandemic to ensure an accurate count, particularly in states with large immigrant populations and communities of color, like New York.