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Census 2020

Are You Ready for the Census?

*Census Day is April 1, 2020*

Once a decade, America comes together to count every resident in the United States. The decennial census was first taken in 1790, as mandated by the Constitution. It counts our population and households, providing the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy.


The 2020 Census marks the first time the Census will be primarily online! Of course, paper and telephone versions of the questionnaire will still be available to people who prefer those formats. The Census questionnaire will be 10 questions, will take about 10 minutes, and is completely safe and confidential. Even though the form is shorter this year, every census,

people wrestle with how to answer some of the questions, in particular, the race and ethnicity questions. This document will connect you with answers to just about any question that you may have about the census, as well as a step-by-step guide to filling out the race and ethnicity portion.

Historically, the census has under-counted marginalized groups, such as immigrants and minorities, because they are hit hardest with accessing affordable housing and often move around, making them harder to find and count. “Hardest to count” populations (HTC) include – renters, young men, children, African Americans, and Latinos—this totals 72% of California’s population! Moreover, when parents are filling out their Census forms, they are leaving out their kids. Some don’t want anyone to know they have kids, but many just don’t think the Census applies to kids.


It is incumbent on all of us to reach out to our friends and neighbors, encourage them to fill out the census, and help get accurate information out to those who have concerns and questions.

Map of the PASadena area


Yellow represents easiest to count while blue the hardest to count areas.  


The four hardest to count census tracts in our area are bounded by:

  • Washington to the North

  • Colorado to the South

  • Los Robles to the East

  • Fair Oaks/Orange Grove/210 to the West. 


Los Angeles County is the HARDEST to count county

in the country.

The Census results impact ALL of us

Information from the census helps the federal government apportion money among states to plan for future improvements to schools, roads, fire, and police stations, in addition to helping people in your local community get benefits such as healthcare, school programs, daycare and job training. Businesses use the census data to determine whether they should open new stores-- which creates new jobs--and what products and services would be best for particular communities. Overall, there is $675 billion that gets allocated across the country based on the results of the Census count. $77 billion of that is for California. If you think that missing a few people in the census doesn't matter, it's worth noting that each person accounts for about $2,000 to the county each year. For a family of 5, that comes to $100,000 of missed funding until the next census. The city of San Jose estimates that it lost upwards of $200 million in federal funds due to census undercounting. Everyone counts! In addition to money, Census counts impact redistricting, which means congressional seats, city council boundaries, school board boundaries, etc. 

Specific Impacts to our community have been:

  • Robinson Park Recreation Center – over $6 million in CDBG funds

  • Villa Parke Lighting - $349,711

  • Senior Center Roof - $114,395

  • Jackie Robinson Center Community Kitchen Renovation - $114,682

  • Wi-Fi for Memorial, Washington, Vine Vieja, Central, Villa, and La Pintoresca Parks

  • Free art lessons at the Armory Center of the Arts

  • PUSD case management for social services to youth and families

  • Swim lessons at Rose Bowl Aquatics Center

  • Youth empowerment programs for girls at the YWCA

Federal law protects your information.

The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Every person with access to your data is sworn for life to protect your information and understands that the penalties for violating this law apply for life. If anyone violates this law, it is a federal crime; penalties are severe, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Additionally, responses collected by the Census Bureau are used for statistical purposes only. The Census Bureau publishes only aggregated statistics and may not publish information that would identify an individual, business, or organization. Federal, state, and local government agencies are prohibited from using statistical datasets produced by the Census Bureau to the detriment of any individual who responded to a census.

March 12-20 - you will receive an “invitation to respond postcard” in mail (see video above for more details). Some will receive a paper copy, but that is mostly reserved for seniors.


March 16-24 - If you haven’t responded yet, a reminder letter is sent.


March 26-April 3 - A reminder postcard is sent, for those who still haven’t filled the census out. Based on past experience, this mailing will most likely be a large number since so few people gather and open their mail every day.


April 8-16 - A reminder letter and paper questionnaire are mailed for those people still not responding.


April 20-27 - final reminder postcard before Census employees begin their canvassing via telephone and in person.


The counting will continue until July 31.


Questions and Scenarios

(click image below to download)

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