In an Oct. 14 press release, officials with Yes! to the Census—a movement run Houston in Action to increase Census response rates in the area—stressed the importance of getting as many people to respond as possible.
"The Census response rate has a significant impact on the future of Harris County and affects funding for infrastructure, better schools, childcare, meal and nutrition programs, and numerous county and local social service initiatives," according to the release.
Responses for the census are taken every 10 years, as required by the U.S. Constitution, and must be completed by all residents of a county. Filling out the census helps to determine the allocation of billions of federal funds to local communities for schools, roads and other public services, as well determining the number of seats each state has in Congress and other levels of government.
The Census can be completed online, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by mail if postmarked by Oct. 15. The self-response rate in Harris County was at 62.6% as of Oct. 14, compared to 64.4% in 2010. The response rate in Texas was also at 62.6%. The overall response rate for the state—which includes responses gathered by Census workers who reached out for answers from those who did not respond to the questionnaire online or by phone or by mail—was at 99.9%, according to Census Bureau data.
In the Oct. 13 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court approved the White House administration’s emergency request for the census to end earlier. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only one to dissent, saying “the harms caused by rushing this year’s census count are irreparable. And respondents will suffer their lasting impact for at least the next 10 years.”
In August, the court previously ruled the deadline for all responses was Oct. 31.
The decision came down after Harris County Commissioners Court approved a motion to dedicate up to $3 million to Census efforts through the end of October using funding from the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, to be used as needed. Census advocates have previously expressed concerns about the count being cut short and the potential effects on vulnerable communities.
Sandra Sadek contributed to this report.