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Local

Geneva urged to set up census count committee for accuracy

Special effort should be made for hard-to-count populations

Geneva resident Jean Pierce, representing the Central Kane County League of Women Voters, requested Geneva to begin taking steps to  establish a “Complete Count Committee” to ensure an accurate response to the census at the Nov. 18 City Council meeting.
Geneva resident Jean Pierce, representing the Central Kane County League of Women Voters, requested Geneva to begin taking steps to establish a “Complete Count Committee” to ensure an accurate response to the census at the Nov. 18 City Council meeting.

GENEVA – Geneva resident Jean Pierce, representing the Central Kane County League of Women Voters, requested Geneva begin taking steps to establish a Complete Count Committee to ensure an accurate response to the 2020 census.

Pierce appeared with Kane County Board Member Mohammad "Mo" Iqbal, D-Elgin, at the Nov. 18 City Council meeting.

“The city will not receive as much state funding as possible if we do not have a complete count,” Pierce said. “It is projected that 16.6% of Genevans living east of the river are not likely to respond to the 2020 census.”

With the total population for that tract calculated as 6,908, the state will lose an estimated $1,500 for each person not counted. Pierce said the state would lose $1.7 million.

“The city should already have begun planning how to identify how to count the hard-to-count populations,” Pierce said. “The Census Bureau has identified a number of hard-to-count populations that are most likely to be the non-responders. According to the American Community Survey, the most significant hard-to-reach populations in Geneva’s tracts are 18- to 24-year-olds, seniors, age 65 and older, renters and families with children under age 6.”

Pierce said hard-to-reach populations are more likely to respond to people they trust with whom they have relationships. For example, senior citizens living might be more likely to respond to hospital staff, ministers or hair dressers, she said.

Iqbal said he is chairman on the Kane County Complete Count Commission.

“This is an advisory committee that works with the community and other municipalities and other organizations to make them aware of the importance of the census and the counting that’s going to take place next year,” Iqbal said. “The U.S. Constitution requires us to count every living individual in the country. It serves two purposes – representation and equitable distribution of resources.”

Iqbal said the census determines legislative districts and electoral votes and how much money the state can get back through grants and by demonstrating the need.

“In 2010, when we had the census, the state of Illinois did not do very well,” Iqbal said. “Overall, it was 76% were participating and millions of people were not … counted. … I would like to offer you want we have learned at the county level and what we have learned in the last six months.”

The county is offering a training workshop on the census at 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Kane County Government Center, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, to educate and raise awareness about the census, Iqbal said.

The main speaker will be from the Census Bureau, Iqbal said.

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said the city is conducting its efforts on the census through its outreach of the Strategic Plan Advisory Committee.

“Ben McCready, our assistant city administrator, is working first-hand with SPAC to ensure not only the engagement is done, but the opportunities to hopefully circuit that information not only through SPAC itself, but also through the individual members so that we do have a robust and responsible count when the time comes,” Burns said.

The first date for completing the census is in mid-March next year, Burns said.

Pierce said she has talked to several members of SPAC who have not heard they were involved in the city's census effort – which is why she and Iqbal came to the meeting, to urge action.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jeanne McGowan said having worked on the 2010 census, she found it hard to believe that 16.6% of Geneva residents living east of the river are not likely to respond.

“That seems really high,” McGowan said. “I was one of the people who went and rang the doorbell of residents who hadn’t returned their response yet. Our goal was 100% participation, so we would return to households if they weren’t home."

McGowan said if there was a residence where she could not find or speak to the people living there, “you’re allowed to take like a witness testimony from a next-door neighbor or someone else who knows approximately how many people are living in a particular residence, the age, if it’s mom, dad, grandma and so on. Those are all ways the population can be counted.”

Pierce referred McGowan to the Response Outreach Area Mapper, or ROAM at www.census.gov/roam to identify low response tracts.

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