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Santa Barbara County wants to ensure everyone is counted in the 2020 census

Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 08, 2019

The data gathered from the upcoming census may have greater implications than one might think.

According to Santa Barbara County officials, for every person not accounted for in the 2020 census, California will lose close to $2,000 of federal funds annually for the next 10 years.

That money is used for things such as education, housing and transportation.

The information gathered from the census is also used to determine boundaries and representation for various levels of government within the state.

"For those two reasons we really do want to have a complete count of every single person in Santa Barbara County, but there are some things this year that make that challenging," said Dennis Bozanich, Deputy County Executive Officer of Santa Barbara County.

Some of those challenges include getting hard to reach populations to participate.

That includes multiple families living in one household, those who do not have access to a computer to fill out the electronic version of the census, and immigrants who are fearful of releasing information.

In response, the Santa Barbara County Complete Count Strategic Plan aims to ensure an accurate count by utilizing various community outreach programs.

One of the ways the county is going about this is by working with trusted individuals within communities to act as messengers to educate the public about the census through a multi-lingual and multi-modal campaign.

"The message is clear - filling out the census is safe and will bring $2,000 to your community every single year," said Hazel Davalos, Community Organizing Director for CAUSE. "That's a message most people can understand. They just need to receive it in their language."

According to Davalos, many might be fearful of taking part in the census due to the citizenship question the Trump administration initially proposed but was later found to be unconstitutional.

Another concern for the census is the self response rate.

According to the bureau, the self response rate for 2020 is 55 percent. That is significantly lower than the 63.5 percent from 2010.