Opinion Pieces

Op-ed by Rep. Roybal-Allard: Help Our Community Get Its Fair Share of Funding: Open Your Door to Census Workers and Make Sure You’re Counted!

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Washington, May 6, 2010 | Helen Machado (202 225-1766) | comments

Now through July 10, you can expect to receive a visit by a census worker if you did not return your census form before April 16th.

These census takers are friends and neighbors hired from our own communities to make sure our local area gets an accurate count.  I urge you to open your doors to the census takers.  Answering their questions is easy, important and safe. 

Census takers – called enumerators – will only ask questions related to the 2010 Census. 

The census form is only 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to answer.  The questions are very basic.  The enumerator will ask you for your name, gender, age, birth date, race, and whether you own or rent your home.  They will also ask for your phone number in case there are any questions about items on the form. If there are others living with you, they will ask you for their information and their relationship to the first person listed on the form. It is important that everyone in your home be counted, particularly children.

It’s important to remember what census workers will NOT ask you.  The census workers will not ask questions about citizenship or immigration status.  They will never ask for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information.

All of the information collected is kept confidential.  By law, the census employees cannot share your responses with anyone, including housing authorities, other federal agencies or law enforcement entities. The punishment for violating this law is a $250,000 fine and 5 years in prison.

If you’re visited, the enumerator will identify themselves as a census worker and show you their census ID.  The census taker will then record your answers to the 10 questions on the census form.  The census employee will never ask to enter your home.

What happens if you’re not home?  They will leave a “notice of visit” with a phone number for you to call to schedule a better time for a visit or to conduct the interview over the phone.  Without a response, the worker will visit your home up to two additional times.  Up to three attempts will also be made to reach you by phone. 

If you’re contacted by a census worker, please cooperate and save them the trouble of returning to your home.

After all, participating in the census is a civic responsibility.  The census is a sweeping headcount that lies at the heart of our democracy. It is a tabulation of everyone who lives in the country, and it will be the basis for distributing political representation and resources across the 50 states for the next 10 years.

Simply put, the Census helps determine California’s voice in the U.S. Congress and how hundreds of millions in federal dollars are distributed in our cash-strapped state. Our communities need your help!

As a result of the undercount in the last census 10 years ago, our communities, cities and state failed to receive their fair share of more than 400 billion dollars in federal funding distributed annually throughout the country.  This funding is critical to local schools, hospitals, roads, senior centers, jobs programs, and many other services important to our daily lives.  Census numbers also help budding entrepreneurs locate potential markets. This means more jobs in our city because businesses are able to determine the marketability of their products and services. 

We cannot afford to miss any of our residents.  Not a single one.

I encourage everyone, especially my constituents of the 34th Congressional District, to do their part to make sure every person in our community gets counted.

For more information, please call 1-800-923-8282 or visit http://2010.census.gov or en español call 1-877-EL-CENSO or visit www.yaeshora.info

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Tags: Budget