It is officially time for the 2020 Census! At Solid Ground, we aim to solve poverty by fighting systemic inequity in our communities through the services we provide. Participating in the census is a direct way YOU can help increase equity in your community.
Census counts determine how resources are allocated and how many seats in Congress each state receives to vote on federal policy. American democracy depends on accurate population data to best understand the needs of our country. It is important to know that taking the census is not a requirement, and it is completely your choice to participate – it does not and will not affect how you or anyone else receives services at Solid Ground.
Taking part in the census is a way you can exercise your political power and increase equity in our country. Your participation helps determine how billions of federal dollars flow into states for the next decade. This federal funding allows organizations like Solid Ground to provide services, fight for social justice, and better serve the needs of our growing community.
What is the census?
The census is a count of every single person in the country, regardless of immigration status. It is conducted by the US Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, similar to the US Postal Service.
When does the census take place?
Starting Thursday, March 12, people will receive invitations in the mail to respond to the census. Once you receive the invitation, you have three ways to participate – by phone, mail, or online. After April 1, census takers will visit residences in order to help count anyone who has not yet responded. The easiest way to be counted is online – and you can complete it online until Friday, July 31, 2020.
Why is it important for the government to count people?
Census data is a critical component of how the government allocates funds to programs such as food stamps, affordable housing, and health insurance. Census data determines where to place public transportation routes, where to build new homes and improve neighborhoods, and where to build businesses to create new jobs.
Also, census data is used to determine how many seats each state has in Congress and how the legislative districts are drawn. In order for your state to have an equal voice in the US government, there must be an accurate count of each state’s population. In the 2010 Census, Washington State’s population grew enough to gain another seat in Congress – increasing from nine to 10!
Who should be counted?
Every person living in your household as of April 1 should be counted on your census form. This includes children, senior citizens, relatives, and nonrelatives – regardless of immigration status.
If you are experiencing homelessness, your participation is still important. Depending on your circumstances, there are different ways you can be counted. If you are living temporarily with friends or family, make sure to be included in that household’s response. If you are living outside or at a shelter, on April 1, census takers will visit these places to help people be counted.
Hard-to-reach communities are at risk of being undercounted, which results in less funding for community programs aimed to help them. Unfortunately, this includes marginalized populations such as people of color, people experiencing homelessness, and people with limited English. Historically, the census has been used to benefit privileged communities who are most represented, but you can fight this by being counted!
Can I trust the census?
The US Census Bureau is bound by law (Title 13 of the U.S. Code) to protect your answers and keep every single answer confidential. In fact, every census employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.
Your information is only used for statistics and will not be used against you in any way. Legally, the US Census Bureau cannot release your information to other organizations such as law enforcement – and participating in the Census will not impact your eligibility for government benefits. When statistics are published, all identifiable information, such as your name, will be removed.
How can I protect myself?
The Census Bureau will never ask you for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers, any money, or anything on behalf of a political party. There is also NO question asking about your citizenship status.
If a census taker visits your home, you can confirm their position by requesting proof via a valid ID badge – with their photograph, a US Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date. Further, you can call our regional census office at 800.992.3530 to ask for verification.
As this is the first online census, scams may be targeted toward you on the internet. Only complete the census form online via the link provided to you on your mailed invitation. You can verify the website is safe by making sure the address begins with ‘HTTPS’ and includes a lock symbol.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in partnership with the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and NALEO Educational Fund, have launched hotlines in over 10 languages to serve as a crucial resource for people who have questions or concerns regarding the upcoming 2020 Census. If you have any questions about the Census or have problems getting counted, call them! You can also email 888COUNT20@lawyerscommittee.org.
- English: 888.COUNT20 or 888.268.6820
- Arabic/ English: 833.3DDOUNI or 833.333.6864
- Mandarin/ Cantonese/ Korean/ Vietnamese/ Tagalog/ Urdu/ Hindi/ Bengali/ Bangla/ English: 844.2020.API or 844.202.0274
- Spanish/ English: 877.EL.CENSO or 877.352.3676
For more information, visit www.2020census.gov which includes resources like the Census 2020 Language Guides in many different languages. You may also call one of these toll-free language lines to be counted and/or ask questions about the census.