WESTERN MASS – If you are one of the people who has procrastinated filling out the Census 2020 form online, by telephone, or by mail, be aware that you may soon be visited by a Census taker.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that they would begin the door-to-door count in Massachusetts on July 30 in Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, Hampden, Worcester, Norfolk, and Middlesex Counties.
“There is a real concern that Western Mass will be shortchanged by the federal government if everyone isn’t counted,” Secretary of State Francis Galvin, the Census 2020 liaison, said in the announcement. “We want to make sure the people of Springfield and all of Western Massachusetts get the federal dollars that are due to them for things like hospitals, schools, and transportation, which is needed now more than ever.”
Census data, which is collected every 10 years, informs where over $675 billion in federal funding is spent each year in states and communities, impacting programs that serve all ages from preschool children to seniors; as well as political representation.
“It’s really important, when so much of our funding whether for kids or for seniors and everyone in between is based on a per person amount,” said Westfield Council on Aging Director Tina Gorman.
Gorman said from a grant standpoint, programs like the Senior Center have to follow the national census numbers, which she said they are “stuck with” for more than 10 years. “For grant purposes, we have to use the 2010 numbers for another year or two. In 2022, we’ll be using 2020 figures,” she said.
Gorman also encouraged residents to fill out the census now if they haven’t already done so, and avoid having census takers knocking on their doors during a pandemic.
An interactive map from the UMass Donahue Institute of the Census 2020 Self-Response Rates for Massachusetts, which is linked on the Secretary’s website at www.sec.state.ma.us/census2020 shows a daily percentage of census returns in the state.
As of August 12, local returns were 72.6 percent for Westfield; 72 percent for Southwick; and alarmingly lower rates for some of the neighboring hill towns. As of August 12, Russell’s returns were at 45 percent; Blandford, 59.4 percent; Huntington, 56.7 percent; Chester, 58.3 percent; Tolland, 35.3 percent, and Granville, 66 percent. The town of Montgomery’s self count at 78.9 percent was the only one to exceed its larger neighbors..
That same day, August 12, census workers were visiting residents in Russell and Huntington. Census workers who visit homes will be wearing official U.S. Census Bureau identification, so that they can be identified. Workers will also be wearing masks, to protect the residents with whom they interact.
Filling out the census at the door takes approximately ten minutes. If the worker is sent away with the promise that the census will be filled out online or on the phone, they will promise to return if it isn’t.
Residents can avoid the need for a visit from the U.S. Census Bureau by returning their census online at www.my2020census.gov or over the phone at 1-844-330-2020.