Residents throughout Syracuse and Onondaga County will soon receive mailers from the U.S. Census Bureau. The mailers will invite a representative from each household to fill out the easy, safe and important census questionnaire online, by phone or by mail. The direct mailings are a part of the self-response period, which continues until mid-May, and allows respondents to voluntarily provide answers to questions designed to establish an accurate count locally.
“The census questionnaire being mailed to homes is really the starting line for our community’s most intense efforts to get the word out about how important the census is for Syracuse, Onondaga County and New York State,” said Tory Russo, census coordinator for the city of Syracuse in a press release. “It’s expected that the majority of people nationwide will respond online, but predictions show that Syracuse and rural communities throughout the county that historically have been undercounted are at risk of an undercount in 2020. We are working closely with grassroots, community partners through the Syracuse-Onondaga County Complete Count Committee to make sure that residents are informed, motivated and supported to respond.”
The mailings will include an invitation letter and other materials instructing respondents to complete the questionnaire online or over the phone. An example of the invitation letter that will be mailed will come from the Bureau’s Office of the Director, containing the website link and a customized 12-digit census identification number for respondents who choose to fill out the survey online; the envelope the invitation will arrive in will be from the national processing center in Jeffersonville, Ind.
The U.S. Census Bureau advises people to be alert for fraudulent mailings. Any materials mailed to residences asking for information such as bank accounts, social security numbers or other personal information, or does not directly come from the Bureau, should be considered spam. The Bureau will never send invitations displaying partisan messaging, affiliations or instructions directing individuals to any online reporting mechanism other than to my2020census.gov. Suspicious mailings should be reported by e-mail to email@example.com with a photo of the information.
According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, there are three census tracts in the city of Syracuse that rank among the top 500 tracts most at-risk of an undercount in New York state. To help combat internet accessibility issues, public libraries and community centers within the city and county are prepared to help people who will need to use computers to submit their household information online.
The average census questionnaire will take 10-20 minutes to complete. The questions will center around the residential address, number of people living in the residence and their age, sex and race. The confidential information will be used to determine how much of the hundreds of billions of federal dollars distributed annually will come to New York state, and subsequently to counties and municipalities, to support programs that help serve every member of the community.
On April 1, Census Day, as people across the country consider where they should be counted, they are to respond based on wherever they lived from March 31 to April 1. Census enumerators will follow-up to the reminders sent to households that have yet to respond online, by phone or by mail beginning May 13 up until July 31.
— Staff Report