By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor
L.A. County officials, including acting CEO Fesia Davenport, urged the public to fill out Census forms, which must be completed by Sept. 30.
The sense of urgency has been heightened following the Trump Administration’s decision to shorten the filing deadline from Oct. 18 to end of this month.
“Not filling out your Census literally means you are throwing out money for your neighborhood and your community,” Davenport said. “Fill it out today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. We need it to be done right now!”
Davenport was appointed acting CEO in March before former County CEO Sachi Hamai announced her decision to postpone her retirement to the end of August. She previously served as the county’s chief operating officer. The acting CEO noted that the Census count is a vital tool to combat structural racism.
“Filling out the Census form is a way of taking action to claim resources that we are entitled to and that the county needs to improve lives and provide equitable services to our communities,” Davenport said.
Jason Tajima, principal analyst with the L.A. County Chief Executive Office in the Census Unit, reported that the response rate of 62.2% in L.A. County is slightly lower than that of the state, currently at 67.4%. The national response rate is 64.7%.
He warned that the undercount would cost the county millions of dollars over the next decade and that the most vulnerable communities are most at risk. Analyzing average response rates, he reported that Latinx tracts have had a response of 57.3% and Black communities have responded at a rate of 59.6%
In the Asian communities, the response rate has been 71.6%, but Tajima added: “This means that three out of 10 households have not responded, so we really need to do a lot of work in the less than four weeks left.”
There is wide variance in Asian populations. Japanese tracts rates are currently 72.7%. Tajima reported that Korean response rate is 61.8% and is noticeably lower in Koreatown, and also there have been low response rates in Cambodia Town in Long Beach and Thai Town in East Hollywood.
June Lim, demographic research program director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, reported on door-to-door canvassing efforts, which began last month.
Census workers are currently knocking on doors and asking a few simple questions to verify the address of a residence and to take note of any additional living quarters on the property for inclusion in the Census.
Lim said that Census workers can be identified by looking for a U.S. Census badge, a U.S. Census branded messenger bag, and a U.S. Census branded laptop. Census workers are active from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., including weekends.
“They will only ask questions that can be found on the Census form. They will never ask to enter your home, for your driver’s license, credit card, money donation or immigration status,” Lim said.
She said that two in three Asian Pacific Americans are foreign-born and that 67% of older adults have limited English abilities.
Davenport said that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of having financial resources for job creation, healthcare and education.
“We know this pandemic has shown how all of us are essential and just how strained our healthcare system is. You now how important it is to wear a mask.
“An accurate count will provide us the tools to fight future outbreaks and allows us to receive funding plan for hospitals and clinics that rely on data from the Census,” Davenport said.
“We need every single dollar.”
If you have questions about Census-related activity in your neighborhood, call 1-800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. Visit https://my2020census.gov/ to complete the online questionnaire in English as well as 12 additional languages.