Census workers beginning address checks in Valley

Providence, RI Census.

WESLACO — The Valley’s countdown to Census 2020 is currently taking a significant step as bureau employees fan out in the Rio Grande Valley in an initial house-to-house canvass as they attempt to confirm addresses.

Ron Garza, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, last week informed the board of progress on Census 2020 and cautioned those in attendance about the rapidly approaching national population count.

“We’ve hit some significant milestones because address canvassing has begun, which is really the first operational implementation,” Garza said.

“Census Bureau employees called ‘listers’ will be out in our communities already, so we definitely want this board to … help get the word out, because the employees of the U.S. Census Bureau will have badges and they will be knocking on some doors.”

Garza said the “listers” will be validating addresses of about 35 percent of the residences in the Valley. This manual address check is a not the actual census count, which begins April 1.

“It could be perceived as a little confusing, because they do knock on the door, they ask a couple questions, and we don’t want people thinking that is the census,” he said. “That’s just a precursor to the census.”

The LRGVDC has taken a lead role as a regional umbrella agency to ensure the best possible population count in the Valley, which the Census Bureau concedes is an area which has been historically undercounted.

At stake Valley-wide are hundreds of millions of dollars in federal monies allocated to cities and counties across the region which are distributed based largely on population. Since these funds will be doled out over 10 years until the next census, experts say each person who goes uncounted can cost a city as much as $1,500 a year, or $150,000 over the course of a decade.

“The window is getting close,” Garza said. “In March, our community will be starting to get our information in the mail as far as responding to the census. We have a task force meeting which is a combination of all the Complete Count committees Sept. 17. This is a significant update that we’ll be sharing there.”

Garza also said a regional forum is planned Nov. 18 at which an administrator from the U.S. Census Bureau will attend to provide an update on efforts here as well as answer questions.