The response rates to the U.S. Census in Hyde Park and nearby neighborhoods have been close to average for Chicago, though the city is still far from reaching the completion targets set by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Both the 4th and 5th wards are a hair below the city average of 47.4% when it comes to filling out the decennial survey. In the 4th, 45.5% of people answered the census. In the 5th, that number is 43.8%. Lightfoot has said that the goal is for the city to average a 75% response rate, though targets are lower for each individual ward: the 4th and 5th are aiming for 74.4% and 72.2%, respectively.
Response rates are less in the 20th Ward, which covers most of Woodlawn. There, only about a third of residents have filled out the census. The two census tracts with the lowest response rates, both located in Back of the Yards, are majority Hispanic. Census analysts believe that Latinx households are at risk of being undercounted, in part because of language barriers. And though there is no citizenship question on the census, a drawn-out dispute over the possibility of including one may have made some residents reluctant to fill out the census form.
An undercount in the Census can adversely affect the amount of federal funding an area receives. The nonprofit Chicago Urban League issued a report last year that found Illinois could lose more than a billion dollars over the next decade if there was a one percent undercount. The state would almost certainly lose a congressional seat, too.
The same Urban League report also found that Illinois is particularly difficult to count because of the high number of Black and Latinx households, including children under five, living in “hard-to-count” areas.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau has delayed its field operation, scheduled to begin in April. On May 4, the agency said it would begin to resume some operations. No local census offices have reopened in Illinois yet.