2020 is a very important year for all of us and our communities.
For one thing, it’s an election year, and we’ll go to the polls to pick our president and elected representatives. We will also vote on measures that affect housing, the justice system, our schools, and much more. It’s also time for the 2020 Census.
The census is like a selfie of everyone living in the United States – kids, babies, seniors, teens, adults. Regardless of citizenship, everyone counts! If you weren’t here for the last one and don’t know why it’s a big deal – trust us, it is! It only happens every 10 years so here’s everything you need to know about why it matters and how it could affect you.
First Things First: Your Information is Protected
One of the questions we hear most often is, “Is it safe for me to participate?” We understand many people are worried about sharing information about their ethnicity or their country of origin, but we can assure you that you and your information are protected regardless of your race, gender, or citizenship. It is against the law for your census information to be shared or used against you in any way.
Why the Census Matters
Your census answers are used to make decisions that affect our communities. The government uses all the information to plan where to build hospitals, fire departments, schools, and roads. Census data is also used to help draw community boundaries and districts. This may not seem like a big deal, but legislative districts can be redrawn to concentrate political power – giving some people more opportunities at the expense of others.
Census information is also used for planning federal funding. In California, we get about $115 billion a year for programs like:
The census helps determine how that money is split and where it goes.
If everyone isn’t counted, we could lose billions of dollars for essential local programs, and then we’d have to wait another 10 years to do anything about it.
What’s Asked and What’s New
This year, there will only be nine questions; in previous years, it’s been 10. Questions take about 10 minutes to answer and are about:
- What kind of household you live in – for example, if it’s a house, apartment, or mobile home
- If you own your home or are renting
- The number of people living in your household
- Their age, race, and gender
Answer every question honestly and do your best to provide complete information. Children under the age of five are often undercounted, so if you’re a parent, make sure you include them.
You can see complete details and questions at the official US Census website.
Census Begins March 12
Census forms will be delivered to every home beginning March 12. Your form will contain detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 census online, by phone, or by mail. If you don’t return your form, you will receive three reminders before a census worker will be sent to your home to walk you through the process.
If you receive a visit from anyone claiming to be a census worker, ask to see their ID. It should contain their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may have equipment with the Census Bureau logo. If you refuse to talk to a census worker, they will simply come back, and you could be fined.
If you would like help filling out your form, you can call (323)531-7741 from March 12 – August 14.
The Census is Your Voice
Participating in the Census is similar to voting: it’s a way to stand up not only for yourself, but your family, and your community. If you don’t participate, we miss opportunities for funding and representation.
We’re counting on you to be counted and spread the knowledge to those you know. Bookmark this page, email it to friends by clicking on the icon near the title, or get our handy overview document that you can save, print or share. Knowledge is power, and the more of us who are willing to participate, the more powerful we become!