Bellaire joined a county committee today to plan a public education campaign to make sure all Harris County residents participate in the 2010 U.S. Census. Census forms should arrive in Bellaire around March 16, and must be mailed back by April 1.
“If we don’t know how many people we have, we don’t know how to divide up congressional seats, divide up federal funding that is based on population,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Wednesday. “Those things are all widely important.”
Emmett launched the Harris County Complete Count Committee, which will include representatives from Bellaire and many other cities in the region. Each community will do its part to educate the public about how important the census is for the region. Community Development Director John McDonald will serve as Bellaire’s representative, and he said he already has a plan for getting the word out.
“We don’t have a lot of lost population. We don’t have to go to a lot of great depths to find people that wouldn’t normally be counted,” McDonald said. “Mostly what we’re doing is over the next month, as we get closer to March, we’ll be putting out some notices.”
McDonald said the city will place information on its Website, send messages through the email notification system, and mail printed reminders.
The state and federal government use the U.S. Census to allocate funding for education, transportation and infrastructure, social service, healthcare and more. Population changes determine how many U.S. Congress Members an area receives — the 2010 count could add one member for the Harris County area. Texas leaders will use the census to redraw congressional and state legislative districts.
Harris County will analyze the 2010 census data to allocate funding for social services in the county, determine future transportation needs, and determine where to build new community centers, schools and other public buildings. School district boundaries could also be redrawn based on population changes.
“I’m going to be really a one-note song between now and April the first. You’re going to hear this over and over and over,” Emmett said. “We have to participate in the census. We have to make sure everybody gets counted.”
For Bellaire specifically, McDonald said he thought filling out the census was most important because it will influence transportation decisions in the entire Houston-Galveston area.
“The main thing is that issues like transportation especially are looked at regionally,” he said. “As part of our region we want to make sure we’re counted properly to make sure we can contribute what we can.”
In the 2000 Census, Bellaire had 15,642 residents — 89 percent were white, 6.3 percent were Asian, 1.8 percent were Latino, and 0.8 percent were African American. Most people owned their homes — 83 percent — and the median family income was $104,200. The population was highly educated, with 67 percent of people who earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and 95 percent who earned at least a high school diploma.