[This post has been updated to correct the response rate for the city of Roswell.]
Chaves County and the city of Roswell are reporting strong 53.7% and 57.3% response rates for the 2020 Census as of May 11, so members of the Roswell 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and its county subcommittee are beginning to target specific neighborhoods and ZIP codes to boost response among areas with lower completion rates on surveys.
Census events and giveaways are planned in Dexter and Hagerman Saturday as part of the effort.
Responses continue to rise
The county and city response rates are increasing each day, said Bill Morris, community development manager for the city of Roswell.
“We are doing good for the state,” he said. “We are going along and clicking up.”
Chaves County ranks fourth in the state for completion rates, after Los Alamos, Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
The state response rate is not good. As of May 11, it is 46.3%, which places it 49th among 52 U.S. territories and states.
The goal for local organizers this year is to count at least 50,000 in the city of Roswell, a mark it missed by only 1,634 in 2010. That year, the city’s response rate was 68.3%, while the county’s rate was 64.4%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Every person counted in New Mexico by the census represents $3,745 a year in federal funding for various programs including highway planning, school lunch programs, federal health insurance plans, higher education grants and loan programs, and early childhood education. Population counts also determine congressional and state legislative representation.
Morris shared census tract-level data in Roswell for 2020 and 2010, which indicated similar activity.
The biggest percentages of responses are occurring west of Main Street, for the most part, as well as north of the southern portion of the Relief Route. One exception is a census tract just east of North Main Street and north of Country Club Road. That tract has the highest response rate in the city so far, between 74% and 85%, a status it also had in 2010.
Morris encouraged committee members to focus efforts on what he called the “hole in the donut” within the city itself, a portion south of East Second Street and bounded by Main Street on the east and Sycamore Avenue on the west.
Committee members are continuing many different efforts to encourage participation before census workers begin to arrive in the area in August to make contact with non-responders.
Committee members plan robocalls to parents of children enrolled in Roswell public schools; continued direct mail efforts and media ads, bulletin boards and yard signs; as well as person-to-person outreach with various subgroups in the county, such as church groups, educational populations and populations in shelters or those experiencing homelessness.
Dexter and Hagerman events
Saturday events will occur in Hagerman and Dexter on Saturday to help people fill out their census surveys, said Louis Jaramillo, who chairs the county subcommittee and is the Chaves County planning and zoning director.
He said the plan is to have internet “hot spots” available so that people can be assisted in filling out the survey on tablets or smartphones on the spot.
“Our self-response rate is in the mid- to upper 20% in these areas,” said Jaramillo.
He has explained that the large number of people who have postal boxes, as opposed to on-site mailboxes, is one reason for lower rates in those areas.
A limited number of $20 gift cards to local restaurants will be given at each of the two sites to those who complete or have completed surveys, with a limit of one card per household.
He said people will be asked to remain in their car to comply with social distancing requirements, and he also asked that people act considerately in recognition that there might not be enough gift cards for everyone, depending on turnout.
The Dexter event will occur at the Town Hall, 115 E. Second St., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In Hagerman, the event will occur from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Lindell Andrews Community Center, 501 E. Argyle St.
A June 6 census rally has been planned for the Roswell Convention & Civic Center as well, with more information to be released later about that event.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.