Frequently Asked Questions about 2020 Census
The Census is a nationwide population count conducted every 10 years by the federal government. Initially made to help determine the number of house and senate representatives each state received, the Census now determines many things. The information collected by the Census also informs the distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds which support various education, housing, health, transportation, and infrastructure services.
The Census is important to you because it affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community can invest in the future, and how you are represented in government.
- Ensure public services and funding for schools, hospitals, and fire departments.
- Plan new homes and businesses and improve neighborhoods.
- Determine how many seats your state is allocated in the House of Representatives.
The Census will only collect basic information about you and the people living in your household. When completing the Census, you should count everyone who was living in your household on April 1, 2020.
The Census Bureau will never ask for:
- Social Security numbers.
- Bank or credit card account numbers.
- Money or donations.
- Anything on behalf of a political party.
Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives. The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.
To learn more about the local effort to get Northern California communities counted, you can view materials developed by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation which have been translated in languages commonly spoken in local communities. Click here for the translated materials.
If your household did not receive a mailed invitation in March 2020 from U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) to either go online or call to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire with a Census ID number, and your household has a P.O. Box or Rural Route number (also known as a “non-city style address”), your household is likely part of the Update Leave process. This process involves a USCB employee leaving a paper questionnaire and then updating the records with the physical location/address of the housing unit in order to assign that household’s paper questionnaire a unique Census ID number.
When the paper questionnaire is left at your home, please complete it and mail it back to the USCB. You can also use the Census ID you receive with the paper questionnaire to go online or call to complete the questionnaire.
Please keep in mind that, if your household that does not have a city-style address has already chosen, or will choose, to submit a questionnaire without a Census ID, additional steps may be required for you and the USCB.
If you believe your household has a city-style address and you should have received your Census ID, please contact the USCB through one of the methods listed here.