(Tuesday, June 30, 2020- Washington, D.C.) – The Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vázquez Garced urged Puerto Ricans to respond to the 2020 Census in an effort to increase participation and adequate headcount of residents on the island. Currently, Puerto Rico has one of the lowest census response rates in the U.S. amid the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we continue to combat COVID-19 and move forward with the reopening of our economy, it is important that we focus on responding to the 2020 Census,” urged Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced.“While we understand the hesitation to interact with individuals outside the family nucleus and continue observing proper social distancing measures, we must not forget that Puerto Rico needs to be represented in the Census. I strongly urge the people of Puerto Rico that currently call the island home to fill the questionnaire in order to ensure everyone is accounted for. As the Governor of Puerto Rico, it is my responsibility to ensure that our people have accurate representation in the U.S. Census”.
As the island continues to follow CDC guidelines to reopen the economy safely, the U.S. Census Bureau has also resumed operations and since May 22, 2020, is again leaving questionnaire forms outside front doors of residences. In the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes, the U.S. Census Bureau determined to hand-deliver questionnaires instead of mailing them to residences to ensure accurate headcount amid the island’s recovery efforts. However, after the recent earthquakes affected the island and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hit Puerto Rico, the island’s response rate has been stalled with just a 22 percent reporting.
The U.S. Census Bureau serves as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy, aiming to provide planning community services for the elderly and infrastructure such as new roads and schools. The Census also distributes more than $675 billion in federal funds and informs how states and communities allocate funding for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, and transportation. It also publishes information on age qualifying services such as social security and other retirement benefits as well as passport applications. Additionally, it estimates population size, characteristics and projections on future demographic trends, including births, life expectance, and migration patterns. The U.S. Census is vital to ensure proper community representation.
“Over the past decade, we’ve faced many challenges. The fiscal and economic crisis, the impact of hurricanes and earthquakes, and now the coronavirus are just some examples. Responding to the 2020 Census is crucial to ensure Puerto Rico receives the necessary federal resources to address these emergencies and continue our recovery process,” said Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colon. “The information gathered through the Census also helps determine how we in Congress allocate billions of dollars in federal funding each year to meet the needs of our citizens and communities. This is why I continue to I urge everyone in Puerto Rico to fill out the Census as soon as possible. The future and wellbeing of our Island depends on it”.
“By now the majority of Puerto Rico households have been invited to participate to the 2020 Census. I strongly encourage everyone in Puerto Rico to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or mail as soon as possible,” said U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham. “Your response helps shape decisions about distribution of funds for public services such as schools, emergency response and health care in your community. Responding is safe and your information is protected by law”.
The Executive Director of PRFAA, Jennifer M. Storipan said “Puerto Rico has currently one of the lowest response rates of the 2020 Census in the U.S., and we need to change that. If underreporting happens on the island, this will create a domino effect on the amount of federal funding the island receives. Puerto Rico island could see a reduction in eligibility of access to federal funding and allocation based on population, and we cannot have that. We urge the people of Puerto Rico to respond to the 2020 Census in an effort to assure accurate representation of the people on the island”.
About the U.S. Census:
The U.S. Census consists of 10 questions and takes 10 minutes to complete, but it determines the community’s funding and representation for the next 10 years. You can fill out the Census online here, by phone, and in Spanish for Puerto Rico residents from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time : (844)- 426-2020 or in your preferred language here or by mail here. For more information, please visit 2020Census.gov