Gary at the bottom in U.S. Census response

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Crusader review shows city far below state average and ranked 12th out of 13 Lake County towns

By Erick Johnson

Three months after the U.S. Census launched its 2020 count, the response from Gary’s residents remains far below the state and national average and at the bottom of the list in Lake County, according to a review of the latest response figures.

Data from my2020census.gov shows that as of June 23, 45.1 percent of Gary’s households have submitted their 2020 Census form. The rate places Gary 12th out of 13 cities in Lake County seeking to boost their U.S. Census counts to reap federal funding and political representation in the U.S. Congress.

Last on the list was East Chicago, a predominately Black city located just east of Gary. Census count data show the response rate in East Chicago stands at 42.1 percent.

Statewide, Indiana’s response rate is 66.1 percent, placing it 10th on a list of 52 states, Census count data show. Eight Midwest states are among the top 10 states that have the highest response rates.

While Gary remains at the bottom in Lake County, St. John remains at the top with a whopping 85.4 percent response rate. Dyer was second at 82.8 percent. Munster, Schererville, Crown Point, Highland, Hobart, Cedar Lake, Griffith and Merrillville round out the top 10. All have response rates far above the state average.

Gary and East Chicago are among three cities in Lake County whose U.S. Census response is below the state average.

Nationally, Minnesota has the highest response rate in the entire country with 71.2 percent. Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Washington, Virginia, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana round out the top 10 states. Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, was last on the list with a response rate of just 21.1 percent.

Gary’s low response has some leaders concerned about the city being left out and undercounted in the Census, which occurs every 10 years. Vanessa Allen-McCloud, president and CEO of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana and chair of the Gary Complete Count Committee (GCCC), has been traveling across Gary in the past several weeks to boost awareness and participation in the Census Count. Two weeks ago, during Mayor Jerome Prince’s press conference, Allen-McCloud announced that Gary’s response rate was 45 percent. When she learned from the Crusader that the figure inched to 45.1 percent, Allen-McCloud did not seem discouraged.

She said Gary residents “probably misplaced it or threw it [Census form] away. The only way to respond now is by phone or online.”

Allen-McCloud plans to attend the mayor’s food giveaway this Saturday to generate interest and participation.

The Census helps to shape decisions about how federal funds are disbursed to communities for housing, healthcare, roads, schools, hospitals, emergency services and other programs. More specifically, the federal government’s distribution of more than $675 million annually to communities is determined by the number of residents counted through the Census. Thus, an accurate census count is extremely important for the best financial distribution to local government.

In December, the Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law. By March 31, the Census Bureau sent redistricting counts to the states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.

Black leaders across the country have expressed concern that minorities in hard-to-count areas will be left out and not represented in the final Census count.

In Gary, the city in September 2019, kicked off its campaign with the message “Checking Our List and Checking it Twice” to engage and encourage participation in the 2020 Census Count.

Last June, Gary leaders established GCCC to educate and to motivate Gary residents to be counted in the Census.

Dr. Vanessa Allen-McCloud, President and CEO, Urban League Northwest Indiana, serves as Chair. Dr. Sharron Liggins, Executive Director, Continuum of Care Network of Northwest Indiana, and Arlene Colvin, Esq., Director of Community Development, serve as co-chairs.

Other GCCC members include Mayor Prince, Councilman Ron Brewer, LaShawn Brooks, City Lead/Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services; Penelope Love, Aetna Manor Revitalization Program; Justin Harris, President, ETitle and Escrow; Kathy Malone, IUN Director of Executive Administration; Ola Morris, Urban League NWI Federation of Block Clubs; Zully Alvarado, Causes for Change; Dr. Richard Barnes, Devin Hall; Gary Olund, Executive Director Northwest Indiana Community Action; Chelsea Whittington, CWHITT PR; Diana Sandlin, Workforce Development Consultant.

Residents will have three ways they can respond to the 2020 Census—online, by mail or by phone. To respond online, go to my2020Census.gov. To respond by phone call 1-844-330-2020.

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