Census online

The 2020 United States Census is the first with the option to respond online.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) urged residents to fill out the Census during her monthly ward meeting Tuesday evening. 

Despite a late start due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau is ending its count on Sept. 30. That means field workers won’t be out door-knocking to gather responses — it also means people can no longer respond on their own by mail or online. 

The shortened timeline has raised concerns among some people that there will be a significant undercount. A 2019 report from the Chicago Urban League estimated that a Census undercount could mean $1.2 billion lost in federal funding — money for programs such as food stamp assistance or Medicaid — over the next decade in Illinois. 

In the 5th Ward, 53.6% of households have responded to the Census, ranking it 31st out of the city’s 50 wards. (The 4th Ward sits 30th, with a 56.1% response rate.) On Tuesday, Hairston noted that many majority-Black wards lag behind majority-white wards in terms of response rates. 

“Looking at the fact that Chicago has lost more than 250,000 Black residents, it is imperative that you talk to your neighbors and friends and encourage everybody to get counted,” she said. “We cannot let this opportunity to be counted pass us by.” 

Hairston also said that the Department of Water Management will begin a project to replace sewer main lines on Hyde Park Boulevard and Everett Avenue around 55th Street. The project is scheduled to end in September. 

She briefly mentioned her involvement with a letter last week calling an emergency session of the City Council, noting once again that she did not support calling in the National Guard to the city. Hairston said she would withdraw her support for the letter if a police reform bill she introduced got a hearing in committee. 

That piece of legislation, which would require police to provide arrestees with resources to find free legal representation, should get a vote in City Council when it meets on Sept. 9.  

Tuesday's ward meeting also included a presentation about a proposed south suburban airport. Mayor Lori Lightfoot met with supporters of the airport in February, in a promising development for the long-gestating project.


Christian Belanger graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. He has previously written for South Side Weekly, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Reader.

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