Port Arthur behind on Census count. Final push to have crucial impact.

Published 12:18 am Friday, July 17, 2020

Port Arthur’s 2020 Census Bureau response is lagging behind the targeted 50 percent goal at 47.7 percent.

Port Arthur’s lowest response rates are from districts 1 and 2, ranging between 31 & 40 %.

Dr. Albert Thigpen, chairman of the Complete Count Committee, said the city is not where “we’d like to be at this point.”

“We are planning some additional activities to engage the community and get them to self-respond,” he said at a Press Club of Southeast Texas meeting Thursday. “We need to be at 50 percent. We’d like to be at 100 percent, but we definitely need to get to that 50 percent mark.”

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Census operations are extended beyond the original July 31 date to Oct. 31.

Jefferson County and the city of Port Arthur are planning several outreach events across the next several months.

On July 25, the National Panhellenic Council will host a Census Day at Central Mall to provide material and assist people with filling out census forms.

“We are trying to launch a yard sign campaign,” Thigpen said. “We have a billboard on U.S. 69 to remind people about the census. We are finalizing a direct contact campaign to call people within the low census tracts to complete the census. We are partnering with the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta in September and finalizing a virtual event with a DJ, presentation and giveaways. We are doing everything we can to engage the community.”

A graphic indicates reasons to respond to the census including money and power.

A large portion of outreach efforts is focused on virtual designs.

Terry Bennett, media specialist for the Census Bureau, said due to social distancing it’s important to push the importance through social media and live activities.

“Our goal is to increase self response in these areas,” Bennett said. “I’ve been reaching out and will continue to amplify Southeast Texas so we can get this accurate response. We’re having a huge media push the next two weeks. We are even asking governments and public officials to put information regarding the census on their websites.”

Thigpen said there are two important reasons to respond — money and power.

Census date impacts funding for things like schools, language assistance programs, career and technical education grants, parks, playgrounds, health clinics, new roads and more.

“We want to be sure that our local communities get their fair share of the $675 billion in funds,” Thigpen said. “We have to recognize the important of that. As it relates to funding, one of the key areas for our area is disaster funding. It is significant and part of what is controlled by our census. Port Arthur needs that money.

“The second reason is power. Representation in government and how many voices we have is important in making very important decisions in the future.”

Port Arthur needs to reach 50,000 to remain an entitlement city.

Individuals can respond to the census online, in the mail or by phone.

For more information, visit 2020census.gov.