It’s nationwide Census Day, and local officials urged residents in Los Angeles County, where 32% of households have responded to the questionnaire since notifications began arriving in mailboxes last month, to be counted online, over the phone or through the mail.
“Whether you are a student, parent, veteran, senior or working professional, this message is for you!” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles. “The 2020 Census will be used to determine the number of congressional districts that are drawn in our state, and the amount of federal dollars that are allocated to California to pay for programs like Medicaid, school lunches, senior services, health clinics, public housing, veteran programs, emergency management and highway construction.”
With more than 10 million residents, Los Angeles County is considered the hardest-to-count county in the nation. Among the challenges are that residents collectively speak 200-plus different languages, more than 70% are renters, and there are some populations with limited access to technology or language barriers.
The coronavirus pandemic is presenting even more challenges, as the Census Bureau was forced to halt field operations — in which trained census takers fan out to reach hard-to-count populations — until at least April 15.
For now, the 2020 Census is open for self-responses by going online, calling the number provided in notices sent to residents last month, and through the mail.
The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the nation’s population every 10 years. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs legislative district boundaries. They also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds are allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers to communities for public services and infrastructure like hospitals, emergency services, schools and bridges each year over the next 10 years.
“It is extremely important that you and your family are accurately counted,” Waters said. “By federal law, your Census answers are strictly confidential, and cannot be used be used against you in any way, by anyone! It only takes a few minutes to complete the survey, but the impact of an undercount of our community will be felt for years. Our community is counting on you to do your part and ensure that everyone is counted in the 2020 Census.”
The Census Bureau encourages the public to respond online — at https://my2020census.gov/ — using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. You can respond online or by phone in English or a dozen other languages. There are also 59 non-English language guides and videos — plus American Sign Language — available online, ensuring over 99% of U.S. households can respond online in their preferred language.
Some households — in areas less likely to respond online — have already received a paper questionnaire along with their first invitation. Households that have not responded online or by phone will receive a paper questionnaire from April 8 to 16, the bureau said.