Lawton’s Census Week: The impact on the housing division

Lawton’s Census Week: The impact on the housing division
Among the many services that stand to benefit from an accurate Census count is the Lawton Housing Division. (Source: KSWO)

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - As Census Week continues in Lawton, the city is reporting just 55.8% people who have self-responded. Among the many services that stand to benefit from an accurate Census count is the Lawton Housing Division.

We first told you about Janet McGee in January, when her home was completely remodeled. It was made possible through grants from the City of Lawton’s Housing and Community Development Programs. Grants that are based on what our Census data shows.

“The number of people in poverty and the age of the housing units - all of that information is gathered through the Census and those directly affect the formulas that determine how much funds Lawton gets,” said Christine James, Administrator for Housing and Community Development.

If that information isn’t accurate, the amount given for these grants could be in jeopardy.

“It will help you, the Census will help,” said McGee. “And that’s what helps them on the program to get our houses fixed like this one.”

Currently, the housing rehab program has a cap of $35,000 to remodel a home to bring it up to livable standards. That’s based off Census data that was collected 10 years ago, but Housing and Urban Development also uses a rotating five-year estimate to distribute federal funds.

“If we have a really bad year, it may not affect us too much, but for anyone who knows average, you put one low number in there, that will bring our average way down,” James said. “It takes quite a bit to bring that number back up.”

Lawtonians have another chance to set a new standard that will help low income families. However, Census data must be submitted by September 30th.

“It do matter, those who really need to be on the program need to fill out the Census,” said McGee. “It’s worth it, it really is. I tell anybody, do your Census.”

James adds when you fill out the Census, everyone benefits. Because the Housing Division hosts community activities and makes improvements at community shelters, the City doesn’t have to dip into their budget to help.

“The city is limited to a budget also so if we can help out and reduce some city projects, maybe the street in front of their house can get fixed because we freed up some funds that we can help out with,” said James.

To fill out the Census, visit 2020census.gov.

Copyright 2020 Texoma News Network. All rights reserved.