The U.S. Census Bureau is urging Los Angeles residents to respond to the 2020 survey.
As of August 10, just 54.9% of Los Angeles residents have responded among the state’s 480 incorporated cities. And for every person who does not respond, the California Department of Finance estimates that state and local governments will lose out on $1,000 a year in federal funding tied to the population for the next 10 years.
“The response rate in the city of Los Angeles is well below the state’s, and it’s extremely important that everyone is counted,” said U.S. Census Bureau media specialist Patricia Ramos.
Nationwide and in California as a whole, responses to the 2020 census are on track, as more than 62% of households have responded online or by phone, or by mail if they received a paper questionnaire in the mail or on their doorstep.
“However, it is vitally important that everyone be counted,” Ramos said. “Results from the 2020 census inform planning and funding decisions for such critical public services as hospitals and health care, emergency and disaster response, and schools and education programs. In fact, census results will shape decisions about how billions of dollars in federal funds flow into communities each year for the next decade.”
Downtown LA in the last decade has evolved, she said, with the population of the city center increasing.
“The regional office is in Downtown LA,” she said. “A lot of young people are there, with USC being in the area. It’s quite the hub for living in an urban area.”
“For a lot of youngsters, it might be their first census that they do—especially being that college age where they’re not at home anymore. It’s important to spread the word that they have four weeks. They can still self-respond to the 2020 census. It takes 10 minutes or less online.”
The website is 2020census.gov. Respondents can also answer via telephone in any of 13 core languages, including English, at 1-844-330-2020. The traditional way of answering is through the mail.
Census takers have started knocking on doors, too. They follow local public health guidelines when they visit. They wear masks and have completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing protocols and other health and safety guidance before beginning their work in neighborhoods.
The staff asks residents a few questions, including the name, age, race and sex of everyone who lived in the household on April 1, and enters the answers on secure Census Bureau phones.
Census takers will not ask for Social Security numbers, bank information or citizenship status and no information will be shared with immigration or law enforcement agencies. If no one is home when the census taker visits, he or she will leave a notice.
Census takers can be easily identified by a valid government ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date on the badge. To confirm a census taker’s identity, the public may contact the Los Angeles Regional Census Center at 213-314-6500 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.
“They started knocking on doors August 11,” she added. “The city of LA, to date—the whole city of LA—54.9% of the population has been accounted for. We still have a way to go. It’s the second-largest city in the country, and we’re not going to leave anybody out.”
The door-to-door census takers are not responsible for counting the homeless. That is performed toward the end of September.
“We work very closely with nonprofit groups and city and government officials to make sure that people who are experiencing homelessness, are not left behind,” Ramos said.
“They need to be accounted for so programs can be offered that will help them and hopefully improve their situations.”