Chandler officials pleased with last year’s Census push SanTan Sun News

Chandler officials pleased with last year’s Census push

September 15th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler officials pleased with last year’s Census push
Community
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By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Leah Powell, Chandler’s neighborhood resources director, freely admits she was worried going into the 2020 Census. That’s because millions of dollars were hanging in the balance.

“We’re pleased with the result,” Powell said. “We worked very hard in a difficult time to get the word out.”

Powell was put in charge of the city’s efforts to convince people to fill out the Census form so they would be counted. The federal, state and county government decide on which programs to fund based, in part, on population.

If you have more people, you usually get more money. That’s why despite a global pandemic, the city pushed to ensure everyone living within its borders returned a Census form.

“We tried to think outside the box,” Powell said. “We had amazing teamwork, and our actual numbers came in higher than all the projections.”

One of their more successful efforts was an ice cream truck. They sent one into low-reporting areas, offering people the chance to get some ice cream with a message to fill out their Census form.

“We had people filling them out while they were eating ice cream,” Powell said.

They also targeted an international grocery store, trying to entice Asians and Latinos who shop there. To help bring the message home, they enlisted “trusted voices” in the community to help convince people it was in their best interest to return the Census form.

The final numbers show Chandler remains Arizona’s fourth largest city with about 276,000 people after growing nearly 17 percent since the 2010 count. City officials say it is unlikely they’ll match that pace in the 2030 Census.

“We are about 92 percent filled out,” said Sam Andrea, the city’s planning analyst for the past 20 years. “There’s only so much undeveloped land left, and only 14 percent of that is planned for residential.”

The city’s long-term plan is for a population of about 300,000. They expect to approve between 5,000 and 10,000 new housing units in the coming decade.

Once all the land is developed, then the only option for new housing will be redeveloping, Andrea said.

The city’s master plan tried to find the right balance between housing, retail, businesses that provide jobs, and the infrastructure to support all of that. Powell gave city leaders high marks for coming up with the plan and sticking to it.

“Decades of councils have stuck to the plan, even when there might have been a lot of pressure from homebuilders to change it,” she said. “It’s not very often that they have changed something.”

She also credited city staff for helping develop the long-term master plan that led to the growth.

Chandler is becoming a more diverse city – a trend Powell says is likely to continue. About 47 percent of the city’s population comes from minority groups. It was only 38 percent in 2010.

The largest minority population in Chandler are Latinos, at more than 62,000. They are followed by people of two races at close to 37,000, then Asians at 33,000. People who checked other race came in at 22,500, and Blacks or African Americans were at 16,500.

There are about 5,300 Native Americans living in Chandler. The final category people could check was Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander. There are 660 of them living in the city.

Arizona did not gain enough new residents to earn a 10th Congressional seat. The Independent Redistricting Commission will be redrawing districts based on the latest numbers. There could be some significant changes because of the massive growth in Gilbert.

However, not enough residents turned in Census forms to earn the state another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Perhaps next time they’ll steal Chandler’s idea and send out more ice cream trucks.

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