The 2020 Census is here. You can respond online, by phone or by mail

The 2020 Census is here and the U.S. government is hoping to get as many households to participate through one of three ways: online, by phone or by mail.

“Invitations are arriving in mailboxes across the country, and everyone will receive an invitation to respond through the mail or from a Census worker soon,” Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said. “We are encouraging everyone to respond once they receive their 2020 Census invitation.”

Invitations will be arriving at households across America from March 12 to March 20. Census Day is officially April 1.

They will not include an individual’s name, rather be addressed to “Resident” at the household address, officials said.

They will contain information on how to respond online in areas “more likely to respond online,” while households less likely to respond via the internet will get paper questionnaires.

The mailings will give households an overview of the Census, notify them of the 12 non-English languages available, and provide a Census ID number linked to their address. The ID number is not necessary to fill out the questionnaire. Officials noted that about 13 million households nationwide will receive bilingual English/Spanish invitations and questionnaires.

“The Census form is nine easy questions and your responses are protected by law,” said Ditas Katague, director of the California Complete Count – Census 2020 Office. “We need all Californians to complete their form so we can ensure representation and resources stay home.”

Here are some key dates regarding  invitations, provided by Census officials:

  • March 12-20: The U.S. Postal Service will deliver initial invitations to respond online and by phone. Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone.
  • March 16-24: Reminder letters will be delivered.
  • March 26-April 3: Reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not responded.
  • April 8-16: Reminder letters and paper questionnaires will be delivered to remaining households that have not responded.
  • April 20-27: Final reminder postcards will be delivered to households that have not yet responded.

Households that do not respond to the Census will be visited by Census takers to follow up. This will happen in most cases beginning in mid-May and ending in late July.

Not every household will receive invitations, in less than 1% of households (like northern Maine, remote Alaska and select Native American areas) a Census taker will ask to count in person.

In almost 5% of households (like those that use PO boxes or were recently affected by natural disasters), a Census taker will drop off invitations.

This is how Long Beach is getting ready for the 2020 Census

In hard-to-count Los Angeles County, including Long Beach, households may see familiar faces knocking on their doors as part of a monthslong effort to recruit community members who can serve as trusted messengers.

This will be especially important for the city’s undocumented immigrant communities who may have been deterred by the Trump administration’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question.

It will also be crucial for the Cambodian community since Khmer is not one of the 12 non-English languages available to fill out the questionnaire.

In addition, places like Long Beach Unified School District school sites and Family Resource Centers will have computers in their main offices, for households without access to the internet, to complete their questionnaires.

To find a questionnaire assistance kiosk near you click here.

Spreading the word to take part in the Census has been challenging, though amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

A press conference scheduled to kick off the Census countywide Thursday morning in Downtown Los Angeles was thrown off due to last minute press conferences conducted back-to-back by the offices of the Los Angeles Mayor and California Governor.

Census officials also canceled a national kickoff event in Atlanta scheduled for March 16, instead rescheduling it as an online event.

It’s unclear how the coronavirus will affect the ability of Census takers to complete questionnaires.

Census officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Los Angeles County officials said that until guidance is provided by the County Department of Public health they will continue moving forward with Census outreach efforts.

“The U.S. Census Bureau is working with national health authorities to ensure all their guidance is incorporated into the 2020 Census operations,” county officials stated. “The Bureau is also partnering closely with state and local health departments, including right here in Los Angeles County.”

The Census will determine the number of seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives—some forecasts predict California will lose a seat for the first time—and used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to states and local governments for services like emergency response, schools, hospitals and bridges over the next 10 years.

To see a sample of the Census questionnaire click here.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.