For Immediate ReleaseApril 30, 2020
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%.
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 My2020census.gov. 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:
“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 MarinCensus2020.org and www.census.gov.
Kristin DrummSenior PlannerCommunity Development Agency
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite 318San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6290Email: Kristin DrummCommunity Development website