Time is running out to respond to the 2020 Census

The City of Oak Ridge has grown a lot in the past 10 years and it’s not going to stop growing for a while. Hundreds of homes are being built on the Preserve and new apartments are going in on South Illinois Avenue, just to name a few. That means all of those homes won’t even be counted in the 2020 Census but we’ll still need funding for the people who live in them. That being said – it’s really important that we get the most accurate count right now so at the very least, we can have the funding for the folks who live here today.

There are eight subdistricts in Oak Ridge. Five are doing very well with responding to the Census at a rate of 68.5% or higher. About half of the people living in the areas bounded by State Route 62, Louisiana Avenue to Oak Ridge Turnpike, West Outer Drive, Lafayette Drive to South Illinois Avenue, and State Route 95 to Bacon Springs Lane, are not responding and are not being counted.

Reach out to your neighbors and let them know they’re not being counted. Time to respond is running out. As of August 27, only 71% of households have responded. With an estimated population of 30,000, this means only about 21,000 of our residents have been counted.

The 2020 Census questionnaire takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Jump on the bandwagon because time is running out. If you care about the schools your children go to, the free lunches they get each day, the roads you commute to and from work on, programs like Medicaid and even housing assistance for seniors and older adults – you should respond.

Census data helps our community respond to natural disasters and secure funding for hospitals and fire departments. This funding helps us lower the road tax and offer those basic services to you. It helps with improving Section 8 housing. And – did you know? Some grants that your schools apply for to buy tools for your students can be based on population size – so we need it to be accurate!

During COVID-19, the Oak Ridge Public Library was temporarily closed and when it reopened for curbside pickup, many Oak Ridgers were thrilled. Did you know that over the next decade more than $1 billion will be distributed to libraries across the country? We want to make sure we get a chunk of that so we can keep offering the many great programs the library has to offer.

This message is for everyone in Oak Ridge. This is more than a population count. It’s an opportunity to shape your community’s future, shape Oak Ridge’s future.

If you haven’t responded yet, just do it. It’s free. And again, it takes less than 10 minutes. You can call (844) 330-2020 and respond, even if you don’t have your Census ID number. You can respond online at my2020Census.gov. Lastly, you can fill out the form and mail it back in the envelope they provided you with free postage. If you’re having trouble responding, reach out to me – Lauren Gray at lgray@oakridgetn.gov. I’m happy to help get you through this. 

If you have already responded, you can inspire others to do the same. Tell everyone – your friends and family, neighbors and co-workers – that you’ve completed the census, and that they should respond now, too.

Respond now. Respond today. Change tomorrow.