The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to permit the Census Bureau to cut short the 2020 Census count drew broad criticism from leaders, including the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who said the ruling will lead to an inaccurate and incomplete count that will profoundly affect funding and political representation for the next decade.
A lower court had allowed the census count to continue until the end of the month, but the Trump Administration appealed the decision.
Supervisors urged anyone who has not yet filled out their census form to immediately go to my2020census.gov and make sure they are counted before the new deadline of Thursday, Oct. 15. Residents can also call 844-330-2020, or mail in their completed form as long as it is postmarked by Oct. 15. Ten minutes to complete their form can lead to 10 years of urgently needed resources for our communities, they emphasized.
“When we count each member of our community, more crucial funding goes to emergency services, health care and schools,” Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger said. “Any decision that makes it harder to count all our residents is a setback that deprives everyone of essential resources.”
The move is expected to lead to an undercount in communities of color and other hard-to-count areas, the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for critical services and a loss of political representation in Washington for the next 10 years. As of Oct. 12, the county’s self-response rate is 64.9 percent, which is behind the 2010 final self-response rate of 69 percent. The 2010 Census resulted in an undercount in Los Angeles County even without a pandemic, leaving the likelihood of an even greater undercount in 2020.
“This is an outrageous and I believe politically motivated decision by the Supreme Court,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, Board of Supervisors chair pro tem. “Accurate census data helps fund important research and programs that strengthen our public health system. Our communities depend on the census for hospital and medical resources that keep our families safe in times like these, and these efforts to derail a complete count are cruel.”
“The impact of this decision on minority communities throughout LA County cannot be overstated,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “The court is compounding significant and unnecessary confusion sown by the president and his administration to disrupt efforts to make sure every household is counted. We must appeal this matter further because to be undercounted is to be underrepresented, and to be underrepresented is to be underfunded and we simply cannot let that be the case. We must all stand up to be counted.”
This census count has been unlike any other as the pandemic forced L.A. County to shift outreach strategies. In every other census, field outreach like door-to-door canvassing, community events and church visits have helped educate residents about completing the census.
“This decision is a blow to everyone who has worked so hard for a complete count,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “I urge everyone to go online immediately and fill out your Census form now, and take a stand against those who want to deprive our community of its fair share of resources for schools, hospitals, parks, housing and roads over the next 10 years.”
Getting an accurate count this year would help ensure L.A. County is equipped to handle crises like the COVID-19 outbreak in the future. Funding for health care and other emergency response programs depend on census data. Supervisors warned that the undercount from the this shortened deadline could cause irreparable harm for the next ten years.
“This census was already a huge challenge because of COVID-19, and now we have an 11th-hour Supreme Court decision that clears the way for the Census Bureau to shut down the count early,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “I urge every single resident to go online now and complete your form before it’s too late. It’s an investment in our future, and will determine our ability to support our hospitals and emergency services, and provide for our residents for years to come.”
The census influences billions in federal funding for local hospitals, parks, schools and affordable housing programs in L.A. County. Census data guides funding for programs including the Title I School Funding, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, WIC, Head Start and community health centers funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration Health Center Program.
L.A. County’s goal is that every resident is informed about, has access to and completes the 2020 Census survey. For more information, visit https://census.lacounty.gov/.