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Cuyahoga County Pushing To Increase Census Response Ahead Of Deadline

Cleveland and East Cleveland still have low response rates for the 2020 U.S. Census compared to other areas of Cuyahoga County. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
The Cleveland skyline.

An ongoing battle in federal court has caused confusion on when the 2020 U.S. Census will actually end, but while that gets sorted out, Cuyahoga County officials are still pushing to increase the region’s response rate ahead of next week’s deadline.

Local census workers will still be going out into the community until the current Oct. 5 deadline, said Cuyahoga County Director of Regional Collaboration Michele Pomerantz, but officials are keeping an eye out for any changes.

“We can’t control the federal government, we can’t control the decisions that are made in court,” Pomerantz said. “But what we can control is our ability to continue to mobilize and motivate, and to find as many people as possible to continue to take the census.”

Cuyahoga Counts workers have spent the last few months working with trusted voices in local communities to encourage census participation, Pomerantz said, and are working to maintain open lines of communication to make sure residents know the census is still ongoing.

“We’re working on quick, efficient and transparent communication with those trusted voices so that anything that happens with the census, they’ll be able to rely on the information that we have at that time,” Pomerantz said.

The county already has a higher response rate than in 2010, Pomerantz said, at roughly 67 percent. Cuyahoga Counts is focusing its last-minute efforts on areas in Cleveland and East Cleveland, Pomerantz said, where response rates are still low. Cleveland just topped 50 percent, while East Cleveland is hovering around 34 percent.

“They are the most vulnerable, and they are the ones that are going to be at such a great loss if we don’t get a complete count,” Pomerantz said.

Cleveland has its own census branch, she said, and initially, the county tried to focus on other areas. But as the deadline nears, she said, the city and county efforts have consolidated.

“In the last month we’ve kind of crossed over everybody’s borders and just tried to find ways and neighborhoods, looking at data to find which census tracks need to be counted more and prioritized,” Pomerantz said. “Anywhere there are people, we want to make sure that we have an opportunity to talk, especially in those lower counted census tracks in the county.”