The 2020 census will take place April 1, 2020, per our U.S. Constitution. California is considered a "hard to count" state, with Santa Clara County ranking as the ninth toughest to count in the nation. In preparation, the Santa Clara County Complete Count Committee and Steering Committee is hard at work to make sure that every person is counted next year. This includes every individual regardless of age, immigration status or residency. The committee is largely focused on our hard-to-count populations, including children under 5, seniors, individuals with disabilities, immigrants and the unstably housed.
Why does this matter? Census data is used to allocate nearly $700 billion in federal program funding every year, of which California receives approximately $67 billion. This funding is used for essential programs like health care, social services, Pell grants and more. California's political representation in Congress is also dependent on a complete and accurate census. If we have an undercount, we may lose one or two Congressional seats.
Why should we care now? We are only one year away from the census and a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey revealed that only seven in 10 people were likely to respond. If this estimate becomes reality in Santa Clara County, we will lose out on over $1 billion annually, or $10 billion until the next census. We have a lot of work to do in the next year to ensure our neighbors, friends and community members participate in the census questionnaire, which will be entirely online for the first time.
The California Legislature has also made the 2020 census a priority by creating the Assembly Select Committee on the Census and the Senate Select Committee on the 2020 United States Census. Our very own Assemblyman Marc Berman, 24th District, chairs the Assembly Select Committee on the Census and we are grateful to have his advocacy and insight in ensuring Santa Clara County will get counted.
How can you help? Kickoff events are happening across the state, including in our city next Tuesday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. The City Council will recognize the census at our meeting. You can help by spreading the word to friends or volunteering with a community-based organization. The most important thing we can all do is build awareness about the census and stress the importance of participation. There is also information at census.ca.gov.
You count, I count, Mountain View counts.
Ellen Kamei is a Mountain View City Council member and a member of the Santa Clara County Complete Count Steering Committee.