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Effort Underway To Ensure Every Californian Is Counted In The Census

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla addresses a meeting of people work...

Photo by John Carroll

Above: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla addresses a meeting of people working to make sure all Californians are counted in the 2020 census on Aug. 16, 2019.

It doesn’t take place until April of next year, but a big push is already underway to make sure every Californian is counted in the 2020 census.

At the Educational Cultural Complex in the Mountain View neighborhood on Friday, the focus was on San Diego County and the education wasn’t happening in classrooms.

It was happening in the lobby, where various community groups shared information on strategies to make sure everyone in the county gets counted.

And it happened in the auditorium, where some of the top elected officials in the state talked about the importance of an accurate count. It all comes down to the distribution of federal dollars, doled out based on population.

Reported by John Carroll , Video by Matthew Bowler

"It’s extremely important that every single person participates because this has to deal with how we qualify for important government programs. Money for education, money for roads, money for libraries, parks, all those things that we love," said State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego.

A big concern for everyone here are so-called HTCs, hard to count communities. That’s part of the reason California lawmakers are funding the counting effort in a much more significant way than last time around.

Sacramento invested about $2 million in the push to get everyone counted for the 2010 census. This time around, the legislature has allocated $187 million for the statewide effort.

United Way of San Diego County is the lead agency in the effort here.

"There’s over a quarter of a million people that we’re going to try to outreach to and get them comfortable with the importance of completing the census next year," said United Way of San Diego CEO Nancy Sasaki.

Officials working with the California Complete Count effort are using every tool they have to make sure people fill out the census. That includes a fairly harsh warning about what it would mean for California financially if that doesn’t happen.

"One thousand dollars per person per year. Population of about 40 million. (That's) about $40 billion a year. Over the course of 10-years, $400 billion," said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Only Democratic lawmakers came to Friday’s conference. But Nancy Sasaki rejected the notion that this was a partisan event.

"It’s definitely not a partisan thing, because what we’re talking about are hard-to-count populations. It doesn’t matter what political persuasion you have. It’s important that you know that you should be counted in the census," she said.

The Census Bureau will start sending out postcards next March inviting everyone to fill out the census.


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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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