Once each decade, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person in the United States. The next count will occur in a year and will be the first to rely heavily on online responses. Here in our county, we are doing a lot to ensure everyone is counted.
Why does it matter?
An accurate count of our state’s population is essential. The data collected by the Census determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and is used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to state and local governments. This means that the Census numbers directly impact funding for essential programs right here in Santa Cruz County. Health programs, children’s programs and more rely on federal funding that is distributed in part through these counts.
What are the challenges to an accurate count?
The primary challenge is the undercount of certain population groups. This is particularly the case in California and right here in Santa Cruz County. Areas that have foreign-born residents, renters, individuals living in homes without a broadband subscription (as many in the rural areas of our county), people living close to or below the poverty line, and children younger than 5 years old. These difficult-to-count populations mean that we may undercount residents.
What outreach is being done?
California launched a statewide effort to ensure an accurate and complete count of Californians in the 2020 Census. The “California Complete Count” is California’s 2020 Census effort and is handling outreach with a particular focus on the hardest-to-count residents. The state invested over $100 million toward this effort and Santa Cruz County applied for funding to perform outreach locally. Local governments, community-based organizations and the media are all partnering to ensure information is shared. This is on top of national work being performed by the U.S. Census Bureau.
All materials will be translated, social media and traditional media outreach will be conducted and informational events will be held throughout the community.
How can I learn more?
First, you are always welcome to contact my office with any questions at 454-2200. The state has a website dedicated to the Census at census.ca.gov — the county has a resource page going up in April that can be found at www.santacruzcounty.us. There are local Census staff that can help and local nonprofit organizations such as the Community Action Board that will be doing outreach to ensure everyone is accurately counted.
As always, I appreciate your feedback. If you have any questions or comments you can call me at 454-2200.