September 10, 2020

LAWT News Service


The L.A. County Board of Supervisors warned residents that a massive undercount in the U.S. Census will result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for critical services and a loss of political representation in Washington for the next 10 years. With only four weeks until the census deadline, only 62.2% of households in L.A. County have self-responded to the census (as of Aug. 27, 2020).

The U.S. Census Bureau has started sending census takers door-to-door in L.A. County, following up with households that haven’t yet responded to the census. The goal of door-to-door visits is to make sure 100 percent of households are counted.

“Census takers are visiting our neighborhoods to assist residents who still need to complete their census form,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “When we count each member of our community, more crucial funding goes to emergency services, health care and schools. The Board of Supervisors urges everyone in L.A. County to respond to the census today to ensure your community has the resources they need.”

African American communities are among those most at-risk for being undercounted. In census tracts in L.A. County with an African American population of 33.3% or higher, an average of 59.6% of households have self-responded to the census as of Aug. 27, 2020. Officials have reason to be concerned as this number is trending lower than the final response rate for the last census. In 2010, 66.2% of households in these same neighborhoods responded to the census.


“This isn’t abstract. An undercount directly results in being underrepresented as well as underfunded for critical programs including health care, food assistance, housing vouchers and so many other safety net programs that our vulnerable residents are counting on – especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic and likely once it’s over,” Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said. “Too much is at stake. I urge all County residents, including our immigrant communities, to continue responding to the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census is secure, quick, and easy and can be completed online, by phone, or mail.”

The Nonresponse Follow-Up (NRFU) operation began in August, the same week it was announced that the new census deadline was cut short by a month to Sept. 30. The shortened deadline is raising concerns that the 2020 Census might not have time to count all communities. Those most at risk of not being counted are predominately in African American, Latinx and Asian Pacific American communities.

“One of the most important rights we have is our hard-won right to vote, a right integral to our democracy and directly related to the results of the census,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who filed an urgency motion expressing concern about the Census Bureau cutting the count a month earlier than expected. “We must all stand up and be counted because to be undercounted is to be underrepresented, and to be underrepresented is to be underfunded. We cannot lose sight of what this means for L.A. County.”

The census can be completed online at, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail if you receive a paper form. For non-English speaking residents, the U.S. 2020 Census website offers general information in 59 languages at

“Counts are unfathomably low across L.A. County. With only four weeks left to complete the census count, we are deeply concerned that L.A. County will lose both political representation in the House and funding for desperately needed services,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “Our message is simple. Fill out your census today. Time is running out and you need to be counted and to be heard.”

Census takers are hired from local communities and speak English. Many are bilingual, but if they do not speak the householder’s language, the household can request another visit from a census taker who does. The Census Bureau and census takers will never ask for residents for a Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers, or citizenship status. They will never ask for money or donations.

Safety precautions have been put in place for residents’ protection. Census takers are required to wear face coverings while conducting their work. They will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit. Census takers have completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and safety protocols.

“Please answer the door and be counted in the census. If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, you can ask to see a valid ID badge with their photograph and name. The badge will have a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. They also might carry a U.S. Census Bureau bag and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “If you want to avoid a visit, you can fill out your census form today at or by phone at 844-330-2020.”

If no one is at home, census takers will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail. They also might deliver a paper questionnaire and hang it on the front door in a plastic bag. Census takers’ identities can also be confirmed by contacting the regional census center at (213) 314-6500 and speaking with a U.S. Census Bureau representative.

To minimize the need to send census takers to households in person, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that it is training census representatives to follow up with households by phone. Phone calls will be used on an as-needed basis and when in-person contact attempts have not resulted in an interview. The Bureau will also continue its Mobile Questionnaire Assistance (MQA) program through Sept. 30. MQA representatives are in open, public places in the lowest-responding areas of the nation to encourage people to respond to the 2020 Census. These locations are where people naturally visit when leaving home and can be used to help increase self-response rates.

The 2020 Census officially kicked off March 12, with the U.S. Census Bureau sending letters to all households in the country, inviting residents to participate in the census by mail, online or by phone. The invitation included a Census ID that links the participant to a physical address, but residents can respond to the census online or by phone without a Census ID.

Completing the census is private. Responses are protected by federal law, specifically Title 13 of the United States Code. They cannot be shared with any other government agencies or other entities, including your landlord.

“Some members of the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities and other communities of color may feel that participating in the census doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t make a difference,” said June Lim, demographic research project director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles. “Nothing can be further from the truth. Federal funding for important resources and services – and having a voice in politics – depends on being counted. Every single person in our community matters and must be counted in the census, regardless of age, race or immigration status. We encourage you to fill out the census if you have not already.”

Category: News