What has happened thus far?
An important factor in establishing an accurate Census count is by ensuring that the Census Bureau’s address list is as complete as possible. If an address is not on the list, the Census Bureau doesn’t know to contact that household, to attempt to count it, or even that it got missed. The Census Bureau list is likely missing many Santa Clara County addresses – especially those for complex housing situations like garages, basements, or sheds – increasing the risk of an undercount, which will have major consequences towards the Census benefits of allocation of federal funding and fair representation. In order to attempt to bridge the gap of some hard-to-count populations, the County of Santa Clara participated in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program, which ran from March 2 to July 14, 2018. The LUCA program resulted in 77,306 missing addresses added to the Census Bureau’s address list. These addresses were identified through visual inspection of neighborhoods through canvassing and analysis of digital images, as well as utilization of existing address databases.
In addition to LUCA, community organizations in San Jose, San Francisco, and Fresno piloted a method called community-based address canvassing, similar to some of the canvassing methods in LUCA, which received attention in the New York Times. Community volunteers and nonprofit staff walk in pairs through key neighborhoods, identify unconventional housing by looking for little signs like curtains on a basement window or an extra satellite dish, and use a simple texting app to record the address. Covering one census area takes just a few hours and can add dozens of addresses that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. No knocking on doors or asking questions of residents is required. It’s a great activity for all ages/community members who are comfortable walking and sending text messages (or cheering on your walk partner while they send text messages)