The 2020 Census will be here soon. Here is everything you need to know about the process, why it is important and how you can help.
What is the Census?
Once every ten years the United States is mandated by the Constitution to count every resident. The data collected determines how many seats in the U.S. House of Representatives each state has. It is also used to decide how to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds locally.
When is the Census?
The Census will take place between March and July of 2020. Self-reporting will be on-going during this time. Census Day, where official Census takers will go door-to-door to help people take the Census is April 1, 2020.
Why is it important?
Our state receives funding based on how many people live in California. About $76 billion dollars. That money is then divided between counties, programs and projects. Each person not counted equals a loss of nearly $1,000 in funding per year. Alameda County receives 60% of its money from Federal and State resources.
That means, if our county under-counts by 3%, we could lose $1 billion over the next ten years.
The loss of that money would impact these programs:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Child Care
- Health Center Programs
- Section 8 Projects
- Head Start
- Women, Infants, and Children Food and Nutrition Service (WIC)
- Special Education
- Foster Care
- School Lunch
- Title 1 funds to schools with low-income students
- State Children’s Health Insurance Program
- Highway repairs
- Medicare Part B
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
What prevents an accurate count?
Residents don’t trust their government. People are worried about keeping their data private and the possible citizenship question. There are language barriers. In our state 220 languages are spoken. The Census survey is only available in 12; 59 for video guides and glossaries.
This is also the first year most residents will be asked to take the Census online. This system has only been tested once and there are many unknown factors that can impact the count.
Census takers are only required to do training online and field work on smart phones. That means staff will only make half the number of attempts to visit each home than previous years.
Large hard-to-count population. Alameda County has 413,000 residents who are hard-to-count. These include:
- Foreign born residents / Immigrants
- People of color
- Young children
- Renters / Frequent movers
- ‘Linguistically isolated’ households
- Low-income households
- Unhoused individuals
- Large or overcrowded households
- Senior citizens
- People without high school degrees
- People with disabilities
- Households without a computer or internet access
- People who distrust government authority and / or have been or could be targets of law enforcement
How can you help?
There are lots of ways that you can help to make sure our state and county counts every resident.
Apply to be a census taker. Supervisory and Non-supervisory postions are available in Alameda County. Salary ranging from $25.00 - $27.50 per hour. For more details and to apply visit 2020census.gov/jobs.
Become a Census Ambassador. Host an event where people can complete the census, Adopt-a-Block or host a Questionnaire Assistance Center! Learn more about being a Census Ambassador here or apply online to become a Census Ambassador.
Become a Messenger for the Census. Messengers work with Alameda County to help get the word out about important Census information. The county will provide you with content for emails, social media, or newsletters for you to share. You can sign-up to become a Messenger on their website.
Attend a Census Solutions Workshop. You have ideas, we want to hear them. The county is planning to host several Complete Count Committee meetings over the next year. Check out their website for dates, times and locations. Workshops taking place in Hayward will also be posted to our Community Calendar.
Share your ideas online. The county website has a form you can fill-out to share your ideas. visit the county website to leave your comment.
For more information make sure you check out the county website.