Only 32 percent of the households in West Oakland have responded to mailed census forms, according to Sonny Le of the Census Bureau. Le also reports that East Oakland isn’t fairing much better; only 37 percent of households have responded. The numbers are a glaring contrast to the national average, which is at 60 percent.
The low response rate could potentially signal a major loss of funding for Oakland, which uses Census figures to acquire federal funding for projects that range from afterschool programs to highway repair. The numbers also determine where the lines for congressional representation are drawn.
East and West Oakland have traditionally been hard-to-count neighborhoods and have driven down funding for the entire county. The estimated under-count in the 2000 Census cost the county roughly $43 million in funding between 2002 and 2012, according to a report by the federal US Census Monitoring Board. In that period, California received more than $41 billion in federal funding, which translated to $1,144 per person.
Recipients have until April 22 to mail in the forms. If they fail to do so, the bureau will send out door-to-door enumerators starting on May 1.