Local cities prepare for 2020 census

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The Del Mar City Council listened to a presentation on the 2020 census urging them to promote local participation, with the decennial count officially set to begin nationwide on April 1.

“Our aim is to have everybody counted, every single person is critical for the communities,” Russell Centera, who is working with cities in San Diego County for the U.S. Census Bureau, said to council members during their March 9 meeting.

For the first time, the census form can be completed online. It can also be completed on paper or by phone, and census officials will make in-person visits to addresses that don’t respond. The U.S. Census Bureau is required by law to keep personal information confidential.

The data it collects is used for purposes including reapportioning congressional districts and allocating federal funding.

Del Mar’s response rate in the 2010 census was 82.9%, higher than the 73.1% response rate for San Diego County, according to Centera’s presentation. Del Mar’s relatively high number of part-time residents may have an impact on the city’s participation rate. Each person in the U.S. is supposed to fill out the form using the location where they spend most of the year.

The census will also be available in multiple languages to address low response rates in certain areas that have been caused by language barriers. Census invitations are scheduled to arrive in the mail from March 12-20 and will include an insert showing respondents how to fill the form out in their native languages. The bureau is also providing video guides that are available in 59 languages, including sign language. According to a Census Bureau news release posted this week, more than 99% of U.S. households will be able to fill out the census in their native languages.

Homeless families and individuals, anti-government residents, residents with disabilities and children are part of the Census Bureau’s hard-to-count list.

“If a brand new baby is born the day of the census on April 1, that baby gets put on the census form,” Centera said. “Every single child should be put onto the census form.”

“From the newborn to the most senior 105-year-old person, everybody has the same weight when it comes to the count,” he continued. “We need to have every single person that’s living in the United States, whether they’re permanent residents, whether they’re United States citizens, whether they’re not. If they’re living in the United States, they need to be counted.”