The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement with the state that will net Riverside County $1.21 million in funding for marketing and outreach campaigns intended to elevate awareness about the 2020 census.
“The 2020 census will have a direct impact on the residents and businesses of Riverside County, as the results provide the basis for the re-apportioning of congressional seats, redistricting of the county’s supervisorial districts and the distribution of more than $76 billion in federal funds to support California’s vital programs, which include housing, education (and) transportation,” according to an Executive Office statement posted to the board’s agenda.
The funding agreement with the California Government Operations Agency, which the board approved without comment, requires that the county share its allotment with cities throughout the county, as efforts are made to reach so-called “hard-to-count,” or HTC, populations.
A strategic plan must be submitted to the state by Sept. 30 establishing what coordinated methods will be applied by the county, municipalities and community-based organizations to ensure that HTCs are identified and contacted.
The agreement notes that more than 200 languages are spoken by people throughout California, and officials will need to consider the additional steps necessary to communicate to residents the basis for the census.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, field canvassing to confirm addresses and ensure the accuracy of prior census lists is underway. Census questionnaires will be going out to tens of millions of households nationwide in the first half of 2020. The goal is to have a complete census submitted to the president by Dec. 31, 2020.
Federal officials expressed concern in the agency’s 2020 Operational Plan about lower response rates in the 2010 census compared to 2000, fearing the trend may worsen and pledging to “make it easy for people to respond anytime and anywhere,”
The county has joined UC Riverside in forming the Inland Empire Complete Count Committee, with the goal of enlisting assistance from business groups, faith-based organizations, healthcare professionals and others in spreading the word about the census.
Online public service announcements, postings in key places and use of traditional media will be part of the committee’s outreach efforts, beginning later this year.
To motivate census participation in 2010, the Riverside County Complete Count Committee offered residents the opportunity to enter raffles with cash prizes — as long as they filled out their questionnaires.
The agreement with the state calls for the county to set up “Questionnaire Assistance Centers” and “Questionnaire Action Kiosks” in various locations to encourage people to complete the federal information sheets.
Quarterly progress reports will have to be submitted to the state showing how funds are being expended and what measures have been implemented to achieve the goal of a comprehensive count.
The census is constitutionally mandated every 10 years.