Deadline for 2010 Census forms is here

HOUSTON The government will accept mail-in forms through most of April, and is still hoping to increase participation in areas like Houston, where response has been low. So far, it's reportedly 37 percent. That's lower than the national average so far of 50 percent.

There is particular concern about the Latino community, which has been undercounted in the past amidst concerns about the census data being reported to immigration officials, which it is not. That was addressed at a news conference last week.

"We are working to ease census fears and maximize Latinos response to the 2010 Census through an unprecedented national campaign," said Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia.

More census forms will be mailed out, more community volunteers and census workers will go door-to-door to get the information from individual households in an effort to boost participation.

"If people do not mail back the questionnaire, census workers will be going to your home starting in May," said Gabriel Sanchez with the U.S. Census Bureau. "In May, we will start the non-response follow up, which means we'll have to send a Census worker to your door, knock on there and get the same information, the same 10 basic questions."

There is a cost to not filling it out. Whereas it's just 42 cents in taxpayer dollars to mail a census form, the mayor's office says it's $57 for each house a census worker has to personally visit to get the information. If you send the form back before April 18, they can pretty much assure that no one will show up at your home.

Public officials have been urging people at every turn to mail the census forms back.

"We do not want to lose the $1,700 per person that you lose if you do not complete the form," said Houston Councilmember Wanda Adams. "We do not want to lose again $240 million that were lost in 2000. We want to make sure that we have money for our streets, for our bridges, for public safety and for our schools."

According to the city of Houston, it missed out on $234 million federal tax dollars in the 2000 census because the population was undercounted.

If 100 percent of the Census forms were mailed in, it would save taxpayers $1.5 billion.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.