County of Marin - News Releases - Census Postcards

For Immediate Release
April 30, 2020

Postcard Reminders are Next Phase of Census

Accurate count determines federal funding, representation for local residents

San Rafael, CA – Marin County households that have not participated in the 2020 U.S. Census soon will receive postcards in the mail as a reminder to participate. The County of Marin, which relies on an accurate count to assure financial assistance for its vulnerable populations, actively encourages everyone to fill out the census.

As of April 28, representatives from 61.6% of Marin households had filled out a census form. It was slightly lower than the Bay Area regional figure of 63.5%.

A closeup of a census worker's hands holding a mobile phone.Even during the COVID-19 emergency, census workers will need to go door to door to collect information from households that have not responded online, by phone, or by mail.
Although the response deadline was extended to October 31 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter-in-place order is allowing some Marin residents time to participate in the census. Households have until mid-August to fill out a form before they become a target for the door-knocking census field operations team.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, census officials are encouraging households to respond so there is less of a need for personnel to knock on doors and speak with residents face to face. By its own estimates, the federal government expects less than 1 percent of households will be counted in person by a census official, most of those being residents living in remote areas. Field visits will continue until the October 31 deadline. Marin is looking to hire a few more $25-per-hour temporary workers for that team, and details are on the 2020 Census Jobs webpage.

An accurate resident count is critical to Marin because much of the funding triggered by the gathered data fuels programs that help lower-income and underrepresented populations. For instance, the census results determine how many dollars go to California for school lunches, Medicaid, CalFresh food assistance, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and many other programs. Undercounting on the census can lead to the loss of a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and federal funding shortfalls.

The official U.S. government headcount is being labeled as the “first digital census” whereby households have the option of responding online, by mail, or by phone. The form may be filled out at It can be done by phone in English (844-330-2020) or Spanish (844-468-2020). Respondents are to include everyone living in a household, whether they are related or not.

The County is most eager to make sure residents from historically undercounted communities are counted. It entered into partnerships with several community-based organizations to support education and outreach activities among those populations.

According to data provided by the California Census Office, Marin residents least likely to fill out a census form or considered “hard to count” are those living in West Marin, Marin City, San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood and Lincoln Avenue, Terra Linda, and pockets of downtown Novato. Historically undercounted populations include racial and ethnic minorities, people who speak languages other than English, those with low internet proficiency or access to technology, children 5 and under, adults over the age of 65, young people who move frequently or have plans to move soon, and rural residents.

Local organizers remain concerned about the five identified barriers that might prevent people from participating in the count:

  • concerns about data privacy and confidentiality;
  • the fear of repercussions;
  • distrust in all levels of government;
  • the feeling that it doesn’t matter to be counted; and
  • the belief that filling out the census form might not benefit the participant’s family or community

“We are closely monitoring rates by census tract throughout the county and can see the impact of outreach in Marin,” said Stephanie McNally, Advocacy and Policy Senior Manager at Canal Alliance, one of the County’s census partners. “For example, on April 1st, Census Day, Marin was in the top five counties with the greatest percentage increase in response rates during that week. We will continue our outreach efforts in the coming months working with homeless advocates and our census partners such as Community Action Marin to promote participation.”

Most questions about the local census efforts are answered on and


Kristin Drumm
Senior Planner
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 318
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6290
Email: Kristin Drumm
Community Development website