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How a low census response rate could affect Buffalo, the deadline to respond is in one week

The census can be filled out online
Posted at 6:58 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 19:01:24-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — With a week to go, Buffalo's self response rate for the 2020 Census is 53.7%.

That's ten points below the New York State response rate, and lower than this point in 2010 according to Mayor Byron Brown. On Wednesday, elected officials and community leaders gathered to encourage people to respond to the census. This is the first time the census can be filled out online.

Here's how you can fill out the 2020 Census:

  • Click here
  • Call 844-330-2020
  • Fill out the form you received in the mail

The list of nine questions for ever person in a household will determine how much federal funding Buffalo receives over the next ten years. For the 2010 Census, the city's response rate was 67%.

“It is estimated that the city of Buffalo could have lost over a billion dollars in federal funds, we can’t let that happen again,” said Brown.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau these were the largest federal assistance programs distributed using census data in 2015:

  1. Medical Assistance Program
  2. SNAP
  3. Medicare Part B
  4. Highway Planning and Construction
  5. Federal Pell Grant Program

Buffalo's population has not increased on the census since 1950. Mayor Brown believes that could change.

“I firmly believe the population in our city is higher than it was in 2010, but that does not matter if we don’t get counted,” said Brown.

The census does not only determine federal funding, but federal representation.

“New York State potentially stands to lose two seats, after we lost two seats after the last census,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo).

Even if there's population growth, it's possible for the state to lose seats, if other states have great enough population gains, which is what happened in 2010.

Jessica Lazarin, the director of the Office of New Americans, said the hardest area to count right now according to census data is the Broadway-Fillmore district. Two of the census tracts along Broadway between Fillmore and Bailey have response rates of 32.0% and 29.3%.

On Saturday, September 26th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the city will be giving away face masks to those who complete the census. Staff will be at these locations with tablets to assist people:

  • The Johnnie B Wiley Amateur Athletics Sports Pavilion
  • The Delavan-Grider Community Center
  • The Belle Community Center
  • The Broadway Market