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Stories

Responding to the Census: Options and Updates

contiguous U.S. map filled with people symbolsDuring this time when we are all struggling with how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our world, it can be either difficult to care about mundane tasks or it can be comforting to use them as a distraction and as something to do to pass the time. Regardless of which way we are leaning, it is vitally important that each of us complete our 2020 U.S. Census, as it will determine how much federal and state money the county we live in receives for the next TEN years. This is the money that funds our healthcare resources, roads, education, housing, transportation, and more. According to 2020census.gov, the census results will also show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.  

The best way to avoid a census worker coming to your home is to respond to the 2020 Census online or by phone before May 27.

Just a 3% undercount in Franklin County, for instance, will mean a loss of about $50 million in state and federal funds over a ten-year period, according to a Community Action Pioneer Valley 2020 Census fact sheet.

I received my census packet in the mail a few weeks ago, and chose to respond online.  The process took me under ten minutes from start to finish. If you received your census packet, you can follow the directions in the packet to either mail in your responses, fill out your responses online, or call the number indicated to complete your census.  

However, according to Jessica Atwood, Economic Development Program Manager at Franklin Regional Council of Governments, the Census Bureau has reported that some households in rural areas of western Franklin County have not yet received their 2020 Census letter and survey packets, due to the suspension of field operations to drop off packets in the wake of the pandemic.  These packets will be dropped off when it is deemed safe to do so, but you do not have to wait for a packet to respond.

Households that have not yet received a census packet for any reason have three options:

Wait for the 2020 Census letter and survey packet to be dropped off at your household in the future. The updated, current schedule for census workers to go to households that have not yet responded is May 28-August 14, so, the best way to avoid a census worker coming to your home is to respond to the 2020 Census online or by phone before May 27. If you choose to wait for someone to come to your home with the census packet, remember that a 2020 Census Worker will NEVER ask for a Social Security number, credit card or banking information, or a donation or service fee. To verify if someone is an official Census Worker, check their identification badge and call the New York Regional Census Center at 212-882-7100 with their name. More information about how to verify if someone is an official Census Worker is available at 2020census.gov/en/census-takers.html.

OR

Go online to my2020census.gov and complete the survey without using the 12-digit Census ID included in your packet. When asked to log in, click on “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.” The next page will ask for the address of where you were living on April 1, 2020.  Then submit your address accordingly.

OR

Call 844-330-2020 to complete the survey by phone without using a 12-digit Census ID. Please note that there has been a wait time for callers. You will provide your address over the phone. For more information on how to respond by phone, including the phone numbers to call to complete the census survey in 15 other languages and TDD, go to 2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html.

If you fill out the survey online or by phone now, and then forget and fill out the paper form later, do not worry: The Census Bureau has a process to review households that submitted multiple responses.

Also, if you receive your census packet and the town or zip code listed in the mailing address does not match the town where you actually live, remember that the mailing address does not impact the data collected. About 2 years ago, the US Census Bureau worked with Town officials to do a “Local Update of Census Addresses” (LUCA) which used maps to determine the physical location of current and anticipated households. The Census Bureau then had staff in the field verify these household locations. The mailing address is only used to get the invitation letter from the Census Bureau to the household efficiently.

Even though it might seem trivial at a time like this, by completing the 2020 U.S. Census we are investing in our community’s future, including in the resources that are helping us make it through this current crisis.