The East End is falling far behind the nation and the county in responding to this year’s U.S. Census, as Census workers fan out across the region to contact people who did not respond to the self-reporting questionnaire sent out this spring.

The door-knocking phase, known as ‘enumeration,’ began Aug. 11 and goes through the end of September.

Nationwide, 63.9 percent of census information requests have been filed, said OLA Associate Director Sandra Dunn at the Aug. 18 meeting of Progressive East End Reformers. Ms. Dunn has been overseeing OLA’s Census outreach to Latino residents. In Suffolk County, about 61.5 percent of residents have responded to the Census. In New York State, just 59.7 percent of residents had responded as of Aug. 18.

But the figures on the East End fall far short of even the state. Riverhead had done the best at responding, with 57.6 percent responding. But in Southold Town, just 38.1 percent of residents responded. In Southampton, 37.3 percent responded. In East Hampton just 30.6 percent of people have responded and on Shelter Island, the response rate is just 27.6 percent.

“We’re told this is typical for a seasonal resort economy, and it’s been exacerbated during the Covid period,” said Ms. Dunn. “Many people are renting their homes out, and they’re not paying attention to the Census.”

Ms. Dunn said New York had lost a congressional seat in 2010 due to an undercount in the Census, and her aim is is to engage Spanish speaking residents.

“We set up complete count committees in East Hampton and Southampton Towns early this year,” she said. “This is the reality of our numbers. It is not for lack of trying. It is the way it always is on the East End.

More than $675 billion each year is distributed to states based on census data. The money is used for hospitals, schools, roads, health insurance, public food programs and disaster programs and other community needs.

If you haven’t yet responded, quickly answer the Census by visiting my2020census.gov or calling 844.330.2020 (English) or 844.468.2020 (Spanish).

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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