Hawaii slow to respond to 2010 Census - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii slow to respond to 2010 Census

Winnie Wilson Winnie Wilson

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite a TV and radio campaign and presentations to community groups and Neighborhood Boards, Hawaii's return of completed census forms is one of the lowest in the nation.

"It's disappointing after all the work that we've done out there trying to get the people to respond," said Winnie Wilson, Honolulu Census Office manager.

The latest numbers show only sixty percent of forms have been filled out and mailed back.

States that top the list average returns of seventy to seventy-five percent.

Every ten years the US Census Bureau counts people. The total determines how much money a state gets in federal funds. The lump sum is huge.

"Roughly $430 billion a year," Wilson said.

The federal dollars pay for things like highway repairs and construction, expenses in public schools, and Medicaid costs.

"It's up to us," Wilson said. "If we don't tell the government this is how many people we have, we're not going to get the funding that we deserve."

On the flip-side, each person who goes uncounted costs a state about $1,400.

Census takers say it takes ten minutes to answer ten questions that could make a difference for Hawaii over the next ten years.

Wilson said the slow return on forms could be because of a language barrier or distrust of government forms.

She remains optimistic.

"We're shooting for 100 percent. We'll take whatever we can get," she said.

If you need help filling out your 2010 Census form call the Honolulu Census Office at 535-0900.

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