By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Ahead of the upcoming 2020 Census, the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club hosted a “Census 101” event on Monday, February 24, at Palisades Public Library.
PPDC invited the general public to the first event of its 2020 Speaker Series: a presentation by Herbert Ferguson, a partnership specialist from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“You all know that there are two very important events going on this year in the United States, one of them of course is the presidential election,” Ferguson said. “Number two is the census.”
The census is a count of every resident in the United States that happens once every 10 years. The first census occurred in 1790, making this the 23rd census.
The U.S. distributes $675 billion annually in federal funds, grants and support—the census offers national demographic data that is used to determine how these funds should be distributed between the states.
The census is also in the U.S. Constitution, mandating that everyone in the country be counted decennially.
This is the first time that Americans will have four different ways of responding to the census: online, by phone, by mail and in person.
Residents in Los Angeles County will receive a postcard notification; the postcards are addressed to a home address, not to a specific person. That postcard will have a distinct code and instructions on how to respond.
Invitations to respond will be delivered over several days, starting March 12.
“I’m not exactly sure when Los Angeles County will receive theirs, but I can remise that it will happen early because we are the most difficult county to count in the whole United States,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson added that individuals shouldn’t worry about confidentiality: The census doesn’t question citizenship or legal status and doesn’t ask for a social security number, it only requests a name and birthday.
“Your responses are secure and they are secure for 72 years,” Ferguson explained. “This census will not be available until 2092.”
April 1 will be observed as “Census Day,” but it is not the cut-off date. Individuals will simply be counted where they are living on April 1.
A concerned Palisadian questioned how homeless individuals will be counted. Ferguson assured attendees that they will be counted by trained individuals and organizations who have established rapport with the homeless population, and they will not be disturbed.
PPDC Vice President Janet Turner questioned the reliability of the mail service.
“My next door neighbor gets my mail, sometimes it goes a block away,” Turner said. “There’s a real possibility that my form might go to another neighbor, what if somebody says, ‘I never got my invitation?’”
Ferguson said that online there will be the option to signify that you did not receive an invitation and still be able to respond that way.
A complete count will be compiled in statistical data on December 31.
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