December 1, 2020

Warning millions in funding is at stake, officials continue calls for residents to take the census

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CHICAGO — Local officials and organizations across the Chicago area urged people to sign up and be counted in the 2020 Census Sunday.

The census deadline is fast approaching, with just 10 days left to be counted. While numbers around the state are seemingly above average, self-response rates in Chicago —  and in some neighbourhoods in particular — they’re much lower than they should be. 

Nonprofits gathered outside La Villa Coin Laundry in Little Village, offering information about the importance of being counted in the census. 

People coming to the laundromat who filled out a census form were able to redeem tickets for two free loads of laundry, all in an effort to get the response rate up in the Little Village neighborhood, where it’s currently around the 40 percent mark. 

Governor JB Pritzker, Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton and local faith leaders also gathered at Apostolic Faith Church Sunday in a final push for everyone to be counted in the 2020 census. 

“It’s up to all of us to do some really important work – census work – and we can’t wait another day,” Stratton said.

Illinois is at a 70 percent self-response rate and Chicago’s response rate is at 59 percent as of Sunday, but some parts of the city are nowhere near that. In majority-Black communities like Englewood and North Lawndale, response rates are hovering between 35 percent and 40 percent.

“Many people don’t understand how important the census is,” Pritzker said. “We are in the middle of a count crisis.”

Officials said a 1 percent undercount is equal to $195 million lost to Illinois and local communities. That money not only funds things like sidewalks and lunch programs in schools, but also helps determine how many people are representing each area in Washington. 

“It determines how much representation you get at all levels of government so show up,” Pritzker said.

Pritzer also referenced recent rallies across the country for racial justice and police accountability, saying the census is simply another way of making your voice heard.

“Filling out the census is as important as any protest,” Pritzker said. “The census brings another measure of justice, stand up and be counted.”