Colorado areas vary widely in rate of returning census forms |

Colorado areas vary widely in rate of returning census forms

Burt Hubbard
The Denver Post

The most census-conscious neighborhood along Colorado’s Front Range is Ken Caryl Ranch in Jefferson County, where nearly two-thirds of census forms have been returned – theoretically putting the well-to-do development in good standing for the population-based government aid it will never need.

Across Denver, in a hardscrabble part of northwest Aurora, as few as 11 percent of delivered forms have been returned by residents – jeopardizing a decade of future eligibility for desperately needed help.

In the two weeks since the Census Bureau flooded Colorado mailboxes with 2010 forms, response rates tracked by the bureau show dramatic variations.

As a result, school districts, cities and nonprofit agencies are mobilizing to persuade people in low-response areas to complete the forms. At stake is an estimated $880 in federal money per resident counted.

Friday, Denver Public Schools sent out an automated phone-call reminder to the homes of its 78,000 students.

Commerce City schools have become collection points for census forms for the surrounding low-income neighborhoods.

Anthony Graves, chairman of the Rotary Club in Five Points, has sent tweets and posted reminders on Facebook for northeast Denver residents to fill out their forms as part of a club community-service project.

Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez led a group of volunteers two weeks ago as they got businesses in southwest Denver to place posters in their storefronts reminding residents to fill out the forms.

“We are blitzing to make sure we do not have an undercount,” Lopez said.

The Census Bureau is tracking daily what parts of Colorado are doing well and which lag in returning the forms. The response rate is based on the number of forms delivered to addresses the bureau has determined were accurate. The bureau does not know how many people live in each home; finding that out is the point of the count.

So far, statewide, 36 percent of households have returned the questionnaires, compared with 29 percent nationally. In 2000, 73 percent of the forms mailed out were eventually returned – also by mail.

Among counties, current response rates range from 13 percent in Hinsdale County in southwest Colorado to 53 percent in Phillips County in the northeast part of the state, according to a Denver Post analysis of census-return data as of Friday.

Among cities in the metro area, Arvada leads with a 45 percent response rate compared with a low of 16 percent for Glendale. Aurora’s rate so far is 31 percent, and Denver is at 32 percent.

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