The County of Santa Clara is currently carrying out an urgent, time-sensitive project to make sure that our communities are not undercounted in the upcoming 2020 Census.
Why: The 2020 Census is constitutionally required to count everyone living in the United States. Our congressional representation is based on the Census, as are significant amounts of funding; nearly $2,000 per person per year in federal money comes into California based on census-derived data. In 2010, the Census Bureau undercounted every racial demographic except for Caucasians and also undercounted other groups such as renters and young children. Research shows that fully one-third of the undercount of low-income immigrants and households of color is due to gaps in the Census Bureau’s address list. 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 – those for unconventional housing like garages, basements, or sheds – worsening the risk of an undercount, which will have major consequences for funding and fair representation. During a short period called the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA), we can address these gaps by adding addresses to the list – but we only have until July 14.
What: To find this unconventional housing, community organizations in San Jose, San Francisco, and Fresno piloted a method called community-based address canvassing, 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 been 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).
County partners, staff, and volunteers are walking through neighborhoods between May and July to check addresses. Volunteers will NOT knock on your door or collect any names or personal information. Volunteers will NOT knock on your door or collect any names or personal information.
Please stay tuned for information about volunteer opportunities.