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Wards 7 and 8 are currently undercounted in the 2020 Census. Here's why that's a problem

There are just nine more days to fill out the 2020 census. 1.5 trillion dollars in funding is at stake.

WASHINGTON — According to the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, D.C. is entitled to $3.1 billion in funding as a result of the 2020 census. Are certain Wards in D.C. more at risk of being undercounted? 

According to Philip Pannell the Executive Director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, a nonprofit focused on the revitalization of Anacostia, Wards 7 and 8 are significantly undercounted right now. 

WUSA9 spoke with Pannell about why that is the case and what that could mean for funding in those wards. We also spoke to the Census Bureau to see how D.C. is doing in terms of the count compared to the region and country.

"It is estimated that for every person in the District of Columbia who is not counted in the census, we lose $40,000 per person over the course of 10 years," said Pannell.

Anacostia is an area of D.C. that Pannell says has a number of hard to count populations.

"We are demographically the youngest ward," says Pannell. "We have the highest percentage of residents under the age of 18. And so when a household is not counted in the census we know there are a number of children who are not counted."

RELATED: DC census advocates worry the lower response rate could spell trouble for historically undercounted groups

Without an accurate count, Pannell explains that planning for programs is very difficult in a community that he says desperately needs the money.

"How do we make plans, you know for schools? How can we intelligently plan feeding programs, recreational programs if we don't know exactly how many people need to be served?" he asked.

Another community that Pannell highlights as being hard to count: returning citizens. A community that he says could benefit greatly from federally funded programs subsidized by the census.

"Unfortunately, the federal funding that is based on where people are doing the census, those dollars are kept in those communities where these correctional facilities are, and those funds do not follow the returning citizens, Pannell added.

Credit: Haleigh Purvis
DC's Central Detention Facility

So how are census counts in D.C., Maryland and Virginia compared to the country? 

According to Michael Cook, Chief of the Public Information Office for the US Census, only Maryland is ahead of the national response rate. 

"Nationally 95.4% of the country has been enumerated (or counted) either self-response or people that have responded to that door," says Cook. "Maryland and Virginia as a state are a little bit higher a tad higher than D.C. So DC is at 93.9% total enumeration. Maryland is right at 96.3% as of today, and then Virginia was slightly ahead at 95.7%."

RELATED: Can these videos get more people to fill out the 2020 census?

The U.S. Constitution mandates that the country count its population once every 10 years. When the census isn’t filled out by a household it falls into the purview of the Census nonresponse follow up operations team. They go door to door and make calls to make sure those unreported houses get counted.

As of today Cook says that the team has contacted 84.8% of those households.

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