65.8% of residents fill out forms; Senate panel chair stresses importance
California has launched a statewide effort to reach thousands of people who have not yet filled out their 2020 Census form.
State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, said, 65.8% of Santa Barbara residents have responded to the census, just above the state rate of 62.5%. Mr. Pan chairs the Senate Select Committee on the 2020 United States Census.
“So, we’re about almost two-thirds of the way in Santa Barbara. Not quite there yet and we still have a ways to go. We do have a range in Santa Barbara from Guadalupe at 59.9% to Goleta at 71.1%, but we still could do much better than that,” Dr. Pan said.
“In fact, we’re still behind where we expect to be based on even the 2010 census. So, it’s really important that we remind everyone how important it is to fill out the census,” he said.
The California Complete Count – Census 2020 Office (California Census Office) — is coordinating the state’s outreach strategy with an emphasis on rural and hard-to-court residents.
Dr. Pan said that in some areas, houses and apartments contain large numbers of people living together. which makes them hard to court. He continued that some families forget to court children under age 5.
“Also, in Santa Barbara we have a lot of college students, and with coronavirus they have been staying at home, so they are not actually in college. For college students, you do fill it out based on where you would normally be on April 1, so that is over at the college even though you might have been home,” Dr. Pan said.
He added that staff will begin going door-to-door to collect census information starting in August.
“If you don’t want them to come knock on your door, fill out your senses today…If you filled out your census, please remind your friends and family that they also need to fill out the census if they haven’t,” Dr. Pan said.
Census officials suspect COVID-19 has suppressed public engagement with the census. Dr. Pan said social distancing restrictions prevent people from socializing and makes it harder for state leaders to distribute information.
“We can try to do things online, we can try to do things by phone, but people aren’t gathering together to keep people safe, and that makes it a little harder to get the word out. So, for people who spend their time online and are able to communicate in those ways, we can reach them, but it’s harder to reach people who, for example, may not have access to the internet,” Mr. Pan said.
He said essential workers in many industries have been hard to reach because they are so busy and don’t have time to respond to the census.
Mr. Pan said residents can fill out the census by visiting my2020census.gov. They can also call (844) 330-2020 in English and (844) 468-2020 in Spanish.
“You can go online and do it, you can make a phone call, you’re getting the census form in the mail. So, if you still have it fill it out. If you don’t (have the census form), keep a lookout for it in the mail. Please fill out your census today,” Mr. Pan said.
Census responses help direct billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, and other public services.