Three-quarters of Vashon residents mail in census forms

Vashon and Maury Island’s mail-in 2010 U.S. Census return rates beat the state and national averages.

Vashon and Maury are divided into two census areas — north Vashon and south end/Maury. Seventy-five percent of north Vashon residents mailed back their census forms, while 81 percent of the south end and Maury Island returned theirs by April 27, the date on which door-to-door census taker canvassing began for those residences that did not return their form.

Seventy-four percent of Washington residents returned their census questionnaires by April 27, and the nation had a return rate of 72 percent.

“We hit the 80s — I’m so happy,” said Island demographer Alice Larson. “Vashon did really great. ... I’m not sure why the south end did so much better, but they did great.”

All the hard work Islanders put in to encourage Vashon residents to return their census forms “has really paid off,” she added.

Getting an accurate count on Vashon is critical for the future of the Island, Larson said, both for governmental funding and for understanding the population that lives on the Island.

“They tell us that for every person not counted, the community loses $1,400 a month,” she said. “That includes state, federal, county, all those funds that are based on census data. If you multiply that by 10 years, it gets really high for every person they don’t count.”

Some experts believe Vashon’s 2000 U.S. Census count of 10,123 Island residents missed some people.

This year’s census count could be much more accurate, Larson said.

Islander and census worker Bonnie deSteiguer reached out to “hard-to-count” populations on Vashon, helping to get Vashon closer to an accurate population count, Larson said.

The official 2010 U.S. Census results for Washington state will be available by the end of 2010, while county counts will be publicized by March 2011, and Vashon-specific numbers should be available by the end of 2011, Larson said.

“With all of our hard work, we are probably going to get a pretty good count this time,” she said.

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