CSAC Bulletin Article

2020 Census Updates for California Counties

June 6, 2019

This year, in January, a number of California’s Congressional representatives submitted a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross highlighting the critical importance of the 2020 Decennial Census to the State of California. The Census determines our state’s congressional representation; Electoral College vote distribution; state, local, and federal district map delineation; and billions of dollars in resource allocation. There are significant implications for the outcome of the Census and, as it draws closer, California faces a number of challenges to ensuring full and accurate representation of our diverse statewide communities.

The letter, authored by Congressman Panetta and a number of his California colleagues, discusses inequities, where historically foreign-born residents, renters, individuals living in homes without a broadband subscription, people living close to or below the poverty line, and children younger than five years old are chronically under-counted. The 2020 Census, which relies heavily on technology for its field operations, raises unprecedented questions about how to ensure an accurate count – one in which every person is counted once, only once, and in the right place.

California continues to lead in its commitment to full participation of all Californians in the 2020 Census. Last year, California participated in the Local Update of Census Addresses program (LUCA), which was the first opportunity for local jurisdictions to provide input to the Census Bureau’s address list. Later this summer, LUCA participants will be able to submit supporting documentation to appeal addresses deleted or rejected by the Census Bureau (with more information and guidance regarding procedures for LUCA appeals to be forthcoming).

In addition to the LUCA program, the New Construction Program, scheduled for September through November 2019, provides local governments an opportunity to supplement the address list.  If counties have not yet responded to an invitation to participate in the New Construction Program, they can still register by June 14, 2019. 

Through the New Construction Program, local governments can submit addresses for residential units under construction on or after March 1, 2018, where completion is expected by Census Day, April 1, 2020.  For more information, visit the 2020 Census New Construction website, including the program schedule and Frequently Asked Questions. 

To prevent an undercount in the 2020 Census, which can result in the loss of federal funds as well as congressional representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, CSAC strongly encourages counties to participate in the New Construction Program to make certain that new homes and the population residing in them are included in the census. 

The California Census Complete Count website provides a number of resources developed to assist local governments with their census planning. This website includes Complete Count’s recently released Language and Communication Access Plan, which outlines information and requirements for the State’s contracted partners, including counties, regional Administrative Community Based Organizations, and Statewide Community Based Organizations, to conduct equal and meaningful access for Limited English Proficient individuals and people with disabilities in their primary language and in accessible formats.

With any questions about the upcoming Census, please don’t hesitate to use CSAC legislative staff as a resource.

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