With a current population of 2,748, counting the residents of Oak Harbor may never have been so important. From Mayor Quinton Babcock’s standpoint, responding to the 2020 Census is one crucial way to help the small, thriving village to continue to grow and prosper.
“How we respond to the 2020 Census will help shape the face of our community for the next decade,” said Babcock. “Statistically, for every person counted, our community will gain $1,500 in federal funding every year for the next 10 years.”
Once every decade, census results determine how much local communities, such as Ottawa County’s Oak Harbor, receive for key public services. That includes hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and vital programs such as SNAP and WIC benefits, the National School Lunch Program, and others.
Essentially, more than $675 billion per year in federal funds is at stake across the nation. The distribution of those funds is based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race, and other factors determined by the census. Going a step further, businesses and developers use census data to decide where to create new jobs and revitalize old neighborhoods. The census also affects government by determining the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is of major importance to Ohio.
Individuals living in the United States and its five territories are required by law to be counted in the census. Ottawa County currently has the lowest self-response rate in Ohio, at approximately 48%. Although Oak Harbor’s response rate of over 72% rate is a positive representation, this still leaves almost 3 in 10 residents uncounted.
The 2020 Census forms were sent out in April, and local census takers, following public health guidelines for Covid-19, began canvassing door-to-door in July. Responses are only used to produce statistics. Personal information will not be disclosed.
Each individual should be counted at the place where he or she lives and sleeps most of the time, as of April 1, 2020. Those in special living situations, including college students, service members, residents of healthcare facilities, or anyone who has moved, owns multiple residences, resides seasonally in an RV or trailer park, or does not have a fixed address, may visit 2020census.gov, for more information, or call the Oak Harbor Administrative Office, 419-898-5561, for assistance.
As census.gov indicates, the “goal is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.”
Census forms may still be completed online, by phone, or by mail. Anyone who did not receive a form may still visit my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020, to complete the census. For residents who do not, or have trouble speaking English, the telephone census workers can handle more than 30 languages.