The U.S. Census extended its response period amid coronavirus concerns; meanwhile the New Braunfels Greater Chamber of Commerce is working to ensure everyone is counted.
The New Braunfels Complete Count Committee distributed door hangers showing how to complete the Census form on Monday morning. For people inside due to the pandemic, phone and online options are available, said Michael Meek, president and CEO of the chamber.
“Right now the good thing is for the first time so much is being done online and by phone,” said Meek. “Every New Braunfelser and person in Comal and Guadalupe counties and the rest of the country between March 12 to 20 got a card in the mail which basically gave you a code to go to a website and log in.”
The U.S. Census extended its response period from July 31 to August 14 so people have more time to respond, according to the Census
Census takers dropping off invitations at front doors will do so from March 29 to May 1 rather than March 15 to April 17. Households can respond online without an invitation by using their address.
The Census will help those needing assistance responding online, such as at grocery stores and community centers, from April 13 to Aug. 14, rather than March 20 to July 31.
Each New Braunfelser may lose about $1,100 in federal programs if under counted, according to the city’s Census website. Undercounts would affect federal funding for children’s health insurance, Medicaid, foster care, student loans, SNAP, Section 8 housing and other programs.
Meek, who also chairs the Complete Count Committee, said he filled out the form on his couch in 10 minutes. That brief time can impact how cities respond to crises such as coronavirus.
“In times like this it really shows how these folks at CDC use the Census data to give strategies on how to fight pandemics down to the neighborhood level,” Meek said.
The Census asks nine questions including who lives in the residence, what type of residence and the person’s name. It also asks age, sex, race and how those in the residence are related.
Answers can be done on the Census website, over the phone or by mail, like a ballot in English or Spanish. Other languages can be used over the phone.
The New Braunfels Complete County Committee will connect to local resources and organizations to inform about filling out the Census and its importance. The McKenna Foundation is encouraging nonprofits to inform and assist people if needed.
There will not be a citizenship question asking about one’s legal status on the Census.
The Census website also shows how to avoid scams. It will never ask for a social security number, bank account or credit cards and money or donations.
Verified Census workers will have a valid ID badge with their photo, U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date.
“Even though the focus is on this coronavirus thing, it gives me optimism that people at home working remotely are using their cell, home computers, iPad or laptop to fill it out,” Meek said. “It’s something that is so important that I hope they take a few minutes to get it out of the way.”