Members will work to educate residents so they know what to expect and when regarding the census, which, ideally, will make them more likely to respond, Communications Manager Keith Hutchinson said in a presentation to City Council members at the Jan. 14 workshop.
“We are focusing on what are called ‘hard-to-count areas,’” Hutchinson said. “The census has tools that help us identify those areas.”
People who do not have internet access, people who are mobile or homeless, people who have hard-to-approach houses and people who are simply new to town are all considered hard to count, according to Hutchinson.
He said apartment residents are typically considered hard to count, as is the west side of downtown and the area north of Williams Drive and south of Lakeway Drive in Georgetown, specifically.
A major barrier that prevents people from participating in the census is fear regarding the safety of personal data, said Fang Fang, a partnership specialist from the Dallas Regional Census Center, to council members at the workshop.
But federal law prevents any information disclosed from being shared with any other government agencies or law-enforcement and answers cannot be used against a person in any agency or court, Fang said. Only statistics are published.
However, fear is not the greatest deterrent, Fang said.
“The No. 1 reason is unawareness,” she said. “A lot of people are just unaware of when, how and why to participate in the census.”
Regarding the “why,” Fang said the census is part of the foundation of American democracy and directly linked to the allocation of money and power.
Census data is used in determining the allocation of federal funds for the state, Williamson County and Georgetown, including community development block grants; highway funding; student and housing loans; and the school lunch program, she said.
Fang added that Georgetown was the first city in Williamson County to form a complete count committee.