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It’s Census PUSH WEEK: How the Harlem Valley is responding to the Census

HARLEM VALLEY — In spite of everything going on today with the COVID-19 pandemic — and there is a lot — some duties have understandably been forgotten or delayed — but now is the time to make sure the 2020 Census gets done. That’s why Census officials have designated the week of July 27 through Aug. 2 as Census PUSH WEEK — a challenge to Americans to self-respond to the 2020 Census. States, counties, cities, towns and communities will be competing regionally throughout the week for the best return rate. Come Aug. 11, Census non-response follow-up operations will begin.

According to Town of Washington Town Clerk Mary Alex, Harlem Valley residents are lagging behind many other communities in submitting responses.

The national response rate, as of the last week of July, was 62.4%; the statewide response rate as of that time was 58%; the response rate in Columbia County at month’s end was 48.9%; while Dutchess County’s response rate was 61.3%. According to www.dutchessny.gov, the county is “trying to beat our 2010 response rate of 71%.”

Responses are vitally important, especially in budgeting and planning for local schools and communities. When people aren’t counted, funding typically drops, affecting planning and budgeting. The U.S. Census Bureau does not share the private information it collects — all answers are kept confidential. What matters are the numbers, the ages and the density of population.

In municipal planning, knowing the correct population is essential for planning for transportation, education and housing. That data is essential when it comes to providing adequate housing, health care, social services and programs for veterans, among other things. It can also impact where to locate museums, sports centers, playgrounds, preschools, etc. Businesses often use Census numbers to determine where to establish themselves. And, not least, the information is used to establish congressional districts and the number of representatives an area has in Congress over the next decade.

According to the latest numbers from Alex, in Amenia, 29% of the town has answered; in 2010, 62.6% responded. In the town of North East, 29.6% responded thus far; the response in 2010 was 60.6%. In Pine Plains, 30.6% have responded; in 2010, 63.2% responded. And in the town of Washington, 28% have responded thus far; in 2010, the response rate was 64.7%.

Even Governor Andrew Cuomo is encouraging New Yorkers to get going. On Thursday, July 9, he emailed residents, “More New Yorkers need to respond to the Census. New York’s Census response rate is at 57.5%, which is below the national average… It’s safe, easy and can be done online from the comfort of your own home. Let’s make sure every New Yorker is counted.”

On Friday, July 24, Pine Plains town Supervisor Darrah Cloud emailed her community, too.

“The Census 2020 is still underway,” she stated. “Once again, filling out the Census is absolutely necessary for a town like ours to receive adequate state funding, which keeps taxes down. It is also the reason Pine Plains does not have adequate broadband to every house: the 2010 Census was used to determine how many houses were on a road. Those who did not fill out their Census that year were not counted as living there, hence their homes were not included in the survey. The state mis-identified Dutchess County as completely served by the internet, when in fact only roughly 2/3 of the county is covered.”

Though the U.S. Census Bureau had hoped to have responses returned by July 31, the deadline was extended to Oct. 31 because of  COVID-19,

Responses may be mailed in, phoned in or done online — even without the code that was mailed to all U.S. residents earlier in the year. For more information or to complete the Census, go to www.2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.

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