The 2020 Census count will end on September 30, a month earlier than the U.S. Census Bureau originally planned.

Stephania Ramirez, director of strategic initiatives for the California Community Foundation, said "this change to the timeline has devastating consequences for us having enough time to enumerate and to get our communities to respond to the Census form."

The California Community Foundation is dedicated to creating positive, systemic change in L.A. County communities.

What You Need To Know

  • The Census count is ending on September 30, a month earlier than originally planned

  • L.A. County was the lowest responding county in the nation in 2010

  • Only 59% of L.A. County residents have filled out the Census form this year

  • Millions of dollars and possibly two Congressional seats are at stake if Angelenos don’t fill out the Census

L.A. County is currently 10 percentage points behind meeting 2010 response numbers. In 2010, 69 percent of residents filled out the Census form, making L.A. County the lowest responding county in the nation.

“We are the hardest-to-count county in the whole nation,” Ramirez said. “We knew we had a historic count coming, this was going to be a big challenge. And so thinking that we had three more months and now, all of the sudden, from one day to another, to be told you have [31 days less], it’s been a critical challenge that we’re sort of trying to deal with and manage right now.”

The response rate from L.A. County residents is low because there are more than five and a half million "hard-to-count communities,” Ramirez said. The U.S. Census Bureau defines hard-to-count populations as those which are hard to locate, interview, contact, and persuade. This may be young children, highly mobile people, non-English speakers, people experiencing homelessness, people with mental or physical disabilities, or undocumented immigrants.

Ramirez said the neighborhoods with the lowest response rates this year are Beverly Hills, Malibu, Boyle Heights, Chinatown, South L.A., and Compton. Residents of Beverly Hills and Malibu are usually more responsive.

“That is something that we’ve been seeing consistently over the last two months, where the response rates again are just not matching what is traditionally seen from those areas,” she said. “We’re trying to dig further and see what we can do to sort of raise awareness there and bring the Census to the forefront.”

If Angelenos are undercounted, California will lose money and power.

"Per person, it's estimated that about $2,000 per year is provided through the Census form. So you multiply that 2,000 times 10, we're talking about $20,000 per person—not per family—per person, that does not come back to California if we don't have the right number of people counted,” Ramirez said. “Additionally, we are seeing that potentially two Congressional seats are at stake.”

Some people ignore mailers and emails from the Census Bureau because they need help filling out the form or don't know what it is.

“They needed to be walked through the process of filling out the form, explaining what is at stake, why the Census matters, why it’s important for them, the safety and the confidentiality around the form,” Ramirez said. “And so we had started to mobilize, and a lot of the community-based organizations, these non-profits, were already out there hosting events, knocking on doors, talking to community members and residents. And then all of the sudden, COVID hit, and that really trampled and put a stop on all this direct outreach that we had planned for for over two years—true and tried and tested tactics."

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the Census Bureau’s count in L.A. County.

“All these groups had to pivot and do their outreach via phone or via text,” Ramirez said. “Those were you know things that we could do right now that are safe and socially distant, while still continuing that trumping of, ‘Census, Census, Census. Please fill out your Census form.’”

The California Community Foundation has gotten creative in spreading the message about the Census on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok.

“We’ve seen Census car caravans in pockets where we know people are continuing to go to work. They’re not in front of a TV or they’re not in front of their phones. We needed them to see us, so they’ve been doing sort of these caravans in areas across the county to get visibility and to remind people like, ‘The Census is here. Fill out your Census form.’”

Fill out the 2020 Census here.

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