GONZALES — A Census Caravan recently traveled through Gonzales to encourage residents to complete their 2020 Census forms.
“We noticed on the lower response rate within the county, Gonzales has the lowest response rate,” said Joel Hernandez, lead organizer for the Center for Community Advocacy, which put together the caravan. “The reason for the caravan is to bring awareness to the city about completing the census.”
A group of a few dozen decorated cars gathered at the Fifth Street shopping center May 8 before heading out into the neighborhoods.
“It’s important for people to feel like they’re counted,” said Gonzales Mayor Maria Orozco. “Like the vote, every individual counts.”
Orozco added, “It only happens every 10 years. Some of the funding that trickles down to communities like Gonzales … when you don’t have the count in your community, you don’t get your fair share.”
Many projects require government funding, which in turn relies on accurate data about the population. This includes funding for roads, schools, housing and nonprofit groups.
“If you have a baby now, in 10 years that baby’s going to be in school,” Orozco said about keeping the per-decade nature of the census in mind. “It’s important for people to understand, some of the projects we’ve done in our cities benefit from the Census.”
While keeping social distancing guidelines in mind, from the parking lot briefing to how the cars interacted with the public, Friday’s participants made sure to keep their parade-like gathering from forming crowds.
“The caravan has been a really good strategy just to go around the neighborhood and show the importance of people answering the Census,” Hernandez said.
Many of the cars were decorated with balloons and signs. The caravan consisted of volunteers and elected officials.
“We’re traveling to about 50 percent of Gonzales with a focus on the lowest response rate streets in Census track areas,” Hernandez said.
Orozco added, “One of the advantages to being a small community is that we do things like this, we make things happen.”
Families came out of their houses and responded to the caravan’s reminders. Orozco said sometimes the census delays can be more than on the resident’s end.
“Some folks haven’t gotten their form yet,” she said. “Some people are just not computer literate, so it’s more challenging. Now that everybody had the hotspots in their home, it’s a lot easier, and their kids can help them fill out the form. One resident said her grandson helped her.”
Orozco said the extended deadline of Oct. 31 has been of help in Gonzales.