While Encouraged by the Response Rate, County Officials Urge More Residents to Complete the Census

LOS ANGELES, CA – May 1, 2020 – The L.A. County Board of Supervisors announced that as of today, over 50 percent of residents have responded to the 2020 Census. L.A. County is below the California response rate of 56 percent and the national response rate of 54.6 percent (as of April 29, 2020).

“While these numbers are promising, this benchmark shows that unless we get responses from every one of our community members, Los Angeles County will only receive a portion of the funding we need to support essential programs and services,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “The census is mandatory, and our goal is 100 percent participation from our residents. This milestone serves as a reminder that we’re only halfway there.”

In the last census in 2010, the total self-response rate for L.A. County was 69 percent. Low self-response rates contributed to the loss of hundreds of millions of federal dollars over the past 10 years due to the resulting undercount.  Another undercount in the 2020 Census would be especially damaging due to the effects of COVID-19.  

The census influences billions in federal funding for local hospitals, parks, schools and affordable housing programs in L.A. County. Census data guides funding for programs including the Title I School Funding, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, WIC, Head Start and community health centers funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration Health Center Program.

“Accurate census data helps fund important research and programs that strengthen our public health system. Our communities depend on the census for hospital and medical resources that keep our families safe in times like these,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “In critical moments, no one stands alone. I encourage everyone in L.A. County to take 10 minutes of their day to complete the census at 2020census.gov, call 844-330-2020, or mail in their completed form. Everyone counts in L.A. County!”

In response to the evolving situation around COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau has extended the official deadline to participate in the census. The last day for households to self-respond online, by phone or by mail is October 31.

“We know COVID-19 is at the top of everyone’s minds, and the County of Los Angeles is doing everything possible to keep our families and our communities safe. Getting an accurate count this year will help ensure L.A. County is equipped to handle crises like the COVID-19 outbreak in the future. Funding for health care and other emergency response programs is dependent on census data,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The worldwide pandemic and “Safer at Home” orders have forced a shift in outreach strategy for the County of Los Angeles and the region’s “Get Out The Count” efforts, which are designed to urge residents to take part in the 2020 Census.

“During every other Census, we have relied on field outreach like door-to-door visits from census workers, community events, and church visits to get the word out to communities about completing the Census,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “This pandemic has made those strategies impossible – but we have adjusted and we are using creative ways to tell residents through the mail, over the phone, and on social media about why completing the census is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to help your community, even during these difficult times.”

Filling out the census form is simple and fast. Census forms can be completed online at my2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by mail if you receive a paper form.

The 2020 Census officially kicked off on March 12, with the U.S. Census Bureau sending letters to all households in the county, inviting residents to participate in the census either online or by phone. Homes that haven’t responded to the census received paper forms in the mail in mid-April.

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 Congress and how much in federal funding is allocated to state and local communities for the next 10 years. Local government officials use the census to ensure public safety and plan new schools and hospitals. Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which creates jobs. Real estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.

Completing the census is private. Responses are protected by federal law, specifically Title 13 of the United States Code. They cannot be shared with any other government agencies or other entities, including your landlord.

For non-English speaking residents, the L.A. County 2020 Census website offers county-specific information in 16 languages and the U.S 2020 Census website offers general information in 59 languages including in-language guides. Visit https://census.lacounty.gov/ and https://2020census.gov/ for more information.

“We are glad that the messages regarding how important it is to fill out your census forms – and that it only takes a few minutes to complete and submit them – seem to be resonating with residents,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “October 31 might seem a long way off, but it will be here before we know it so can’t let up now. It’s time to work together to ensure that everyone is counted in order to help shape services and the future for our families.”