Chicago announces new efforts to boost Census participation

Chicago officials are turning to texting and a roving van providing Wi-Fi access to encourage participation in the U.S. Census.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the programs on Friday. The coronavirus pandemic has prevented more traditional efforts of encouraging participation, including in-person canvassing and group events.

Chicago Cares, a nonprofit working with the city, created a program that lets Chicagoans volunteer to text other residents and encourage them to complete the census.

The city also plans to use a neon green van dubbed a “mobile Census center” that will travel to food banks, face mask distribution sites and other events and provide Wi-Fi access to let people complete the Census digitally.

According to city officials, 53% of Chicagoans have responded to the Census so far. That’s short of Lightfoot’s 75% goal and the 66% participation rate during the last Census.

“Now more than ever it is critical for Chicago’s residents to fill out their Census forms and make themselves count,” Lightfoot said.