With $3.9 million in its pocket to ensure as many residents as possible are counted in the 2020 census, the City Council Wednesday called on the mayor’s census office to outline plans for door-to-door outreach and education efforts in traditionally undercounted areas.
“It’s an important time for us to have a conversation around making sure we that are doing every effort possible to ensure that a city like Los Angeles — which is number one in the nation for the hardest to count population — that we are doing our part to make sure … that everyone is counted,” City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said.
The council asked the director of the mayor’s Census 2020 Initiative to report back in 60 days on plans for outreach and education in “chronically undercounted areas,” and identify efforts that may be in need of more funding.
Los Angeles will receive $2.95 million in state funding to conduct census outreach efforts, which will be added the $950,000 the city has allocated.
The mayor’s census officials said they hope to get as many people to self-respond to the census, and $500,000 is being spent on early outreach efforts.
Maria de la Luz Garcia, the mayor’s Census program director, said of the 2,513 census “block groups” in Los Angeles, 52.9 percent have poor response rates. Most of those census block groups are in East Los Angeles, Harbor/Wilmington, Hollywood/Koreatown, Northeast Los Angeles, Northeast San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles, she said.
As part of its outreach, the city will conduct 15 community forums to inform and educate historically undercounted populations of about the census, officials said. The program will also establish 211 Census Action Kiosks/Questionnaire Assistance Centers in hard-to-count areas that will open during the self-response period.
Representatives from the Census Initiative will also be dispersed in the areas to help with education efforts.
Outreach efforts will also be focused on areas with large homeless populations or temporary housing facilities.
The Department of Water and Power will circulate census information through its billing system, which will be sent to 1.6 million households, and additional materials will be distributed informing people of their rights when submitting the census forms, Garcia said.
Concerns about poor participation in the census have been raised in response to President Donald Trump’s efforts to include a citizenship question on the census. Critics have assailed the move as an effort to prevent participation by immigrants due to fear of being deported.