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What you need to know about the 2020 Census

Synopsis

The once-a-decade count of the nation’s population is set to begin this month, and apartment owners and managers will play an important role in making sure the count is complete and accurate.


Key takeaways

  • The U.S. Census Bureau will be sending questionnaires to households for the 2020 Census. These should be received by mid-March. The Census is conducted every 10 years as required by the Constitution.
  • Participation in the Census is required by law, and Census workers may visit properties to help collect the information if questionnaires are not completed or information is not submitted online. This kind of follow-up would likely begin in May.
  • Learn more about how you can encourage residents to participate, where to get additional resources and get your basic questions about the Census answered.

The once-a-decade count of the nation’s population is set to begin this month, and apartment owners and managers will play an important role in making sure the count is complete and accurate.

Census Day is April 1, 2020, but most households will receive questionnaires and instructions by mid-March. Each household can respond to the questionnaire by phone, by mail or online—online participation is new for 2020. Not returning a questionnaire or submitting a partially filled-out questionnaire may result in a follow-up phone call or visit from a census worker.

Here are some basic Q&As to help you understand the Census, how it will impact your property, and why it’s important.

How can apartment operators assist with an accurate Census?

Apartment owners and managers can help facilitate a complete and accurate count. Through your community’s social media efforts and other communication outreach efforts to your residents you can encourage your residents to participate.

If your apartment community has hard-to-count populations living in your community your role is particularly important in encouraging a questionnaire response. These populations include very young children, immigrants, people of color, rural residents, people with disabilities and low-income individuals.

Are there resources that can help me encourage participation in the Census? How can I find resources or get more information?

Yes. To help encourage apartment resident participation, the U.S. Census Bureau has graphics and other collateral material available at www.2020census.gov. To get a better understanding about the Census effort and discuss other resources available you can speak to a Census representative in the Dallas Regional Census Center by calling 972/510-1800, or send an email to Dallas.rcc.partnership@2020census.gov.

Will Census workers come on my property? When would this occur?

Possibly. If an apartment community achieves a high enough response rate (if enough residents respond to the Census and submit the questionnaires on their own) it is unlikely that a Census worker will have to walk the property to collect questionnaire responses. However, starting in May 2020, the Census Bureau will begin following up in person with those that have not responded to the census.

Census field work, performed by workers called “listers,” is also done to simply collect and verify addresses or confirm the number of units that exist on the ground matches the bureau’s files.

How can I tell whether my property is likely to be visited by Census workers?

Some locations have been identified in advance and assigned field workers. To see the identified workload areas more prone to fieldwork by the Census, type “2020 Census: In-Field Address Canvassing (IFAC) Viewer” into your favorite internet search engine, or visit this link.  At the site you can zoom-in to see the work areas where Census field workers have been assigned and therefore the likelihood of receiving a visit to the property is greater.

How can I verify that someone is a legitimate Census worker?

If a Census worker visits your property to collect information for the 2020 Census you can verify their identity by making sure that they have a valid ID badge containing their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, you can contact the Regional Census Center to speak with a Census Bureau representative. Call 800/923-8282 or 737/207-4146.

Are there other ways to spot fraudulent Census workers? What should I do if I suspect fraud?

The Census Bureau will never ask for a Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers or solicit money or donations. If you suspect fraudulent Census workers call the police and also call the Census Bureau using the numbers provided above.

What is the Census, anyway?

The U.S. Census is a count mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Constitution requires this count be made every 10 years, and include every person living in the U.S.—regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Participation is required by law. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790 and will be first time that households can respond to the census online.

Why is the Census important? Does it impact my community?

Accurate counts have a number of important impacts in local communities, and in the state and nation. Federal funding allocations, school planning efforts, business location and expansion decisions and more rely on Census data. The results of the Census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and affect the drawing of state legislative districts.

What political impact will the Census have?

As noted, the Census counts impact the number of seats in the U.S. House. Currently, Texas has 36 congressional seats, but most expect that the 2020 Census results will add three more seats for Texas. (States with declining populations and slower growth, like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, stand to lose congressional seats.) The state and federal redistricting process begins in earnest after the counts are sent to the states by March 31, 2021.

What financial impact will the Census have?

The Census count’s accuracy is very important. Federal tax money from Texas sent to Washington comes back to Texas (in the form of federal spending and support funds) based on Census numbers. These federal funds received by Texas are used to support housing, transportation, education and other services we use. It is estimated that a population undercount as small as 1 percent could cost Texas $3 billion in federal funds over 10 years. With 25 percent of Texans living in hard-to-count areas, our state is at particularly high risk for a significant Census undercount.

What kind of information does the Census collect? What questions are asked?

Most of the questions will be similar to what census forms have asked for in recent counts, such as: the number of people living or staying in the home, whether the home is owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent. The name, sex, age, date of birth and race of each person in the home and the relationship of each person to a central person in the home is also collected.

How is Census data used or shared? Is it confidential?

Any and all Census data collected is kept private and secure. The Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies, until 72 years after the information is collected. Of course, the Census Bureau can release population and demographic information at a level as detailed as a neighborhood.

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