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Hampton Roads Community News

Impending Census 2020 Undercount; Norfolk Count Lowest In Hampton Roads

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide

   In July of 2010, according to  Census figures, Norfolk’s  response  rate from its citizens stood at 65 percent.

        At that point the nation was in the final stages of the national count, but this year, the COVID Pandemic has extended the response period for Census 2020.

Was of July 30, Norfolk’s response rate was at 59.8 percent, the lowest among cities in the Hampton Roads area.

        Chesapeake was tops at 72.4; Virginia Beach, 69.8: Hampton 64.8;  Suffolk, 63.6; Newport News, 62.8; Williamsburg, 62.6 and Portsmouth at 61.9. The national response rate from all 50 states is 62.8 percent; Virginia’s is higher at 67.5.

Across the nation,  about 4 out of 10 households have still not participated in the  Census and self-response rates are even lower in traditionally undercounted communities of poor, African Americans, Hispanics and other marginalized populations in the rural and urban centers of the nation.

        At this point there are several factors attributing to
Norfolk’s last place among region’s locales, according to a spokesperson for the City’s Complete Count Committee (CCC).

         The Navy has not contributed the headcount of the all of the thousands of military personnel stationed on  land at the Naval Base or  aboard ship, even those underway.

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        Also Norfolk State and Old Dominion Universities and other educational  institutions with large resident  populations have not reported their numbers.

Also as tradition has it,  Norfolk’s three largest public housing communities in the St. Paul’s Quadrant community downtown, are showing slow response rates.

Tidewater Gardens is undergoing the first phases of   the redevelopment of the St. Paul’s area. Many individuals and families are  involved in relocating to housing outside the community as the city targets razing units later this  year

    Last week, signs emerged that the Trump Administration was planning to cut the  Census count  short by one month.

The Census Bureau confirmed late Monday (August 4) that the door-knocking and ability for households to respond online, by phone or by mail to the questionnaire will stop at the end of September so the bureau can meet an end-of-the-year deadline to turn in numbers used for redrawing congressional districts and allocating federal funds.

Civil rights groups, Congressional Democrats and other advocates for a complete count via the Census say the  Trump administration may be cutting the count time for political reasons.

There are fears that the administration is carrying out its months-long effort to undercount poor and minority members in Democratically-controlled voting districts.
    These groups say the Census which began April 2, was extended to the fall  because of issues caused by the pandemic and fear of exposing census workers  out in the field encountering. residents.

The outcome of the Census will determine the distribution of billions in federal aid for everything from education, healthcare, to infrastructure development.

The Census count also determines for states their shares of congressional seats, Electoral College votes and an estimated $1.5 trillion a year in federal tax dollars for Medicare, Medicaid and other public services.

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