Residents are expected to begin receiving information from the U.S. government in mid-March asking them to participate in the 2020 Census, part of a national headcount that takes place every 10 years.
The numbers are used to determine how to distribute annually some $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments. According to a recent George Washington University study, Georgia receives about $2,300 a year per person based on Census figures. The numbers also determine how many seats a state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw legislative and school districts.
By April 1, known as Census Day, all homes across the country are scheduled to have Census questionnaires. There are no citizenship questions on the Census. Federal law protects Census responses and information from being shared with law enforcement or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
Sample questionnaires and more information about the Census are available at 2020census.gov.
For the first time, people will be able to answer Census questionnaires online via a website portal that launches March 23. People also will be able to answer the Census questionnaire by phone or by mail.
Households will begin receiving invitations to respond online to the 2020 Census between March 12 and 21. Reminder letters and postcards will be sent out through March and April. Beginning in May and continuing through July, Census workers will go door-to-door to households that have not responded.
What the Census does
State, county and city governments use the federal money distributed based on Census data to fund schools, hospitals and emergency services. The results also inform how billions of dollars will go to programs like Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, highway construction, school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, according to the Census Bureau.
Developers and business owners also use Census data to decide where to open new restaurants or factories or where to build new office buildings.
Local government sources
Local officials use various methods to inform people about the importance of being counted. Officials are holding community meetings, launching social media campaigns and hosting public events where they can hand out Census swag, such as tote bags and water bottles.
The city of Atlanta has a website at atlcounts2020.org to provide information about how to participate in the Census. It is estimated that 35% of Fulton County’s population will be hard to count, so the city is recruiting Neighborhood Ambassadors on the website to reach out to friends and neighbors to get the word out.
This is the first Census for the city of Brookhaven, which incorporated in 2012. The city has budgeted $70,000 to try to reach all residents and ask them to take part in the Census. Special attention is being made to reach the city’s Latino and Hispanic residents living in apartments on or near Buford Highway. More than 24% of the city’s approximately 54,000 residents identify as Latino or Hispanic.
The city’s outreach also includes ads on Telemundo and partnering with groups such as the Latin American Association and Los Vecinos de Buford Highway, according to Patty Hansen, who is organizing the city’s efforts. The city is hosting a March 14 festival at Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway to raise awareness about the Census.
In Dunwoody, the city is planning an April 1 Census Day event at the Dunwoody Library where iPads will be available for people to fill out Census questionnaires. Other outreach events include a “Kids Count” event at the Farmers Market on April 4 to make sure young children are counted and an April 19 event at Crossroads Church. The church is trusted by many in the Hispanic community, said city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher. The Refugee Women’s Network also is collaborating with the city to target local apartment complexes, she said.