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If $7,132,500 disappeared from Forest Park’s village revenues every year for the next 10 years, residents might consider filing criminal charges. But the mayor and the commissioners would not be the ones to blame.  The fault would be with the 34.7 percent of Forest Park neighbors who have not as of July 1 filled out the census forms.

Because the federal government uses the census count to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in funding on a per capita basis, every person not counted results in thousands of dollars lost to the community.   

Allen Serrano, the chair of Forest Park’s Complete Count Committee, and Tanzla Davis-Rodriguez, the village’s executive secretary, feel the urgency of getting as complete a count as possible, because the more residents who respond, the more money will come from the federal government to fund local agencies and programs like Medicaid, Head Start, SNAP, fire departments, school lunches and infrastructure improvements.

Serrano and Davis-Rodriguez have attempted to motivate residents to self-respond by placing signs and/or literature in Mom’s Place, Submarine Tender, the Community Center, the Forest Park Park District, the Forest Park Library, District 91 offices, Ed’s Way, Oak Park Apartments and with the Chamber of Commerce.

To pursue that 34.7 percent, which is still MIA, plans are being made for July and beyond for what Davis-Rodriguez referred to as a Census Committee Drive Thru Food Drive.  Although details have not been made available as of yet, Nathaniel Booker, the Census 2020 Director of Awareness and Education for all of Proviso Township has held similar events in Maywood and Melrose Park. 

In a June 22 interview he said what he called the “tours” were drive up events at which people would be assisted with completing the census while remaining in their cars and would also receive fresh produce and personal protective equipment.  The “if they won’t come to us, we’ll go to them” tactic, according to Booker, “has been widely successful.  We have completed six out of eight events. When we look at each person representing, $1,535 each year over the next 10 years this one project has already helped count more than $8 million worth of residents.”

Davis-Rodriguez added that the Complete Count Committee will partner with the Community Center, the Chamber of Commerce, District 91, the library, the park district and the village at all upcoming events by having a booth or table with computers available to allow residents to complete their online questionnaires.  She said the mayor’s office can be contacted at 708-615-6203 to set up an appointment for assistance in completing the questionnaires.

She said that “Zoom Parties” are also being scheduled to spread census awareness and pledge participation.

Following is a more granular description of what is at stake in terms of dollars and cents.  The 2010 census lists Forest Park’s population as 13,704.  As of July 1, 65.3 percent of village residents had completed the 5-minute census and sent it in. which means that 34.7 percent or 4,755 of your neighbors have not.  The commonly used estimate is that the federal government will dole out $1,500 per person counted in the census every year for the next 10 years to fund local programs.  So, $1,500 times 4,755 equals $7,132,500 lost per year.  Over the next decade, add a zero to the that total –$71,325,000.

Compared to the other 13 villages in the Proviso Township, Forest Park isn’t doing very well.  Leading in percentage of responses is Western Springs with 84.2 percent followed by Westchester with 79.9 percent.  Forest Park so far is down near the bottom of the standings with Maywood at 57.2 percent, Melrose Park at 55 percent and Stone Park at 48.9 percent.

How feds use the census counts

Importance of the Data

The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of our nation — who we are, where we live, and so much more.

Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

Redistricting

The U.S. Constitution mandates that the country count its population once every 10 years. The results are used to adjust or redraw electoral districts, based on where populations have increased or decreased.

State legislatures or independent bipartisan commissions are responsible for redrawing congressional districts. The U.S. Census Bureau provides states with population counts for this purpose.

Federal Funding

The results of the 2020 Census will inform decisions about allocating hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding to communities across the country — for hospitals, fire departments, school lunch programs, and other critical programs and services.

Business Decisions

The 2020 Census will be valuable to businesses, as the results will provide a rich set of data on the communities they serve, including population trends and growth projections.

Business owners rely on census results to make decisions, such as where to open new stores, restaurants, factories, or offices, where to expand operations, where to recruit employees, and which products and services to offer.

Forest Park in 2010

Population                                      13,704

White                                             59.1 percent

Black                                              27.2 percent

Asian                                               8.2 percent

Hispanic                                         7.3 percent

Foreign born                                  12.9 percent

Owner Occupied Housing             51.1 percent

Median Value of Above                $230,700

Broadband Internet                        80.7 percent

Bachelor’s degree or higher          50.4 percent

Persons without health ins.            9.3 percent