Workers may soon come knocking at area homes
Cumberland — CUMBERLAND — Local officials were taken aback when the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday that census workers could begin knocking on some homeowners’ doors as early as Tuesday.
Through several months of public meetings with stakeholders representing the public school system, state prisons and the faith-based community, among others, there had never been a mention of census workers approaching residents until May.
Already, however, some 56,000 census workers are set to deliver forms to nearly 12 million addresses that don’t get their mail at their homes. This is despite nearly two dozen members of the Allegany County Local Complete County Committee spreading the word that first come notices in early March and surveys would arrive by mail between March 15 and 31.
Only if residents failed to submit forms, local representatives have repeated during public meetings and presentations at various interest groups, would a census enumerator knock on their door.
Monday’s announcement “caught me off guard,” said Elizabeth Stahlman, chairwoman of the local committee working to ensure 100 percent accountability.
A census worker who frequently attends the monthly meetings also said he was unaware of the issue. But Mike Gregorio, Census Bureau spokesman, said that’s been the plan all along.
“This office has known about it for a while,” Gregorio said. “About 90 percent of forms will be sent out. If you don’t receive mail at your own house, then you might expect someone to come knocking on your door to give you a form or leaving something on your doorsteps.”
Less than 10 percent are hand-delivered by census workers. Those efforts are concentrated in mostly rural areas, including parts of Western Maryland.
Most residents should receive their survey form, by mail or in person, before April 1. Beginning in May, census workers make their way to homes that have not mailed back a completed form. That process, Gregorio said, can extend into July.
Meanwhile, local committee members spent about 35 minutes Tuesday discussing various outreach efforts. A display will be available at the Hooley Plunge at Rocky Gap State Park on Saturday, Stahlman said. Promotional products have been distributed during high school sporting events and window displays have been offered to Allegany County Chamber of Commerce members.
Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Franklin Jackson Jr. said the wintry weather has put some plans behind schedule but emphasized the importance of a complete count.
“This is our last chance to get this right,” Jackson said. “Remember, resources are at stake. This is the last big push.”
The census determines yearly appropriations of more than $400 billion in federal aid to tribal, state and local governments.
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