News

Santa Clara County adds $1 million to census effort, launching door-to-door knocking campaign

'It's spending money to make money,' Supervisor Mike Wasserman says

Faced with a looming deadline at the end of the month, Santa Clara County is pumping more money into a campaign to get as many residents as possible to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Santa Clara County is spending $1 million to get more residents counted in the final stretch of the 2020 census. Courtesy Getty Images.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved $1 million in funding to complete the "final stages" of the census, which ends on Sept. 30. The county has already spent more than $6 million on the effort, most of which has been exhausted.

The most recent data shows Santa Clara County's population has already surpassed the previous 2010 numbers, but that dozens of census tracts are still lagging behind, county officials said. A total of 63 census tracts, primarily in San Jose and Gilroy, still have a self-response rate of less than 85%, sagging behind the 2010 numbers.

The 2020 census has been an uphill battle from the start, launching in March right as COVID-19 cases began to proliferate across Santa Clara County. A plan to launch door-to-door outreach was immediately scrapped in favor of phone calls, mailers and social media.

Even without a global pandemic, Santa Clara County's cultural diversity and need for multilingual services make it the ninth most challenging place to get an accurate census count in the entire country, said Deputy County Executive David Campos at an Aug. 27 press conference. Along with a huge investment coming straight from the general fund, the county started planning for the census more than three years ago, he said.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

"The reality is that these are challenging and unprecedented times, and the level of investment the county is making is unprecedented, but we know that we can do nothing less than what we are doing for our community," Campos said.

While Santa Clara County's response rate has been uneven, the overall results have been positive: The county currently ranks within the top three response rates in California, Campos said.

Board President Cindy Chavez said at the Sept. 1 Board of Supervisors meeting that time is running out to get hard-to-count communities to respond. The Census Bureau had originally extended the deadline to Oct. 31, but announced last month that it would stop collecting data on Sept. 30. She said the money is intended to bring back the door-to-door knocking campaign by providing census workers with hazard pay.

In a letter to supervisors, Silicon Valley Community Foundation President Nicole Taylor said the county's current results amount to a "tremendous" accomplishment, but that low-response areas cannot be left uncounted.

"With the devastating impact of COVID-19 and the recent fires, it is clearer than ever that our region needs to have every resource available for a strong recovery and an accurate census count is key," Taylor wrote.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Results from the decennial census count will have a profound financial and political impact for the next 10 years. Not only does the census determine congressional seats, but it is used as the basis for allocating $1 trillion in annual aid to state and local governments.

In some ways, throwing in an extra $1 million on the census is a sound investment, said Supervisor Mike Wasserman. If the county generates an estimated $1,800 per person per year over 10 years, the boost in funding would be nearly paid off if it counts just 50 more people.

"I think this money is well spent, and I think in this case it's spending money to make money," Wasserman said.

Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said she supported the bump in funding, but said the county should extend its campaign beyond just the most severely undercounted census tracts in San Jose and Gilroy — specifically District 5, which includes North County cities such as Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

Last year, worries swirled that there could be an undercount of noncitizens and Latino communities after President Donald Trump's administration sought to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The decision was subject to six lawsuits, and was blocked by the Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote.

County staff describe the actions of the Trump administration as an attempt to "undermine the integrity (of the census) through fear and intimidation" by attempting to exclude undocumented immigrants. The Sept. 30 timeline only adds to those concerns.

"The most recent strategy to sabotage the census has been a reduction in the time available to federal, state and local governments to ensure an accurate census count by moving the deadline up by one month," according to a staff report.

Residents can go to my2020census.gov to fill out the census online or call 844-330-2020 to respond over the phone.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Kevin Forestieri writes for the Mountain View Voice, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Santa Clara County adds $1 million to census effort, launching door-to-door knocking campaign

'It's spending money to make money,' Supervisor Mike Wasserman says

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Sep 3, 2020, 9:40 am

Faced with a looming deadline at the end of the month, Santa Clara County is pumping more money into a campaign to get as many residents as possible to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved $1 million in funding to complete the "final stages" of the census, which ends on Sept. 30. The county has already spent more than $6 million on the effort, most of which has been exhausted.

The most recent data shows Santa Clara County's population has already surpassed the previous 2010 numbers, but that dozens of census tracts are still lagging behind, county officials said. A total of 63 census tracts, primarily in San Jose and Gilroy, still have a self-response rate of less than 85%, sagging behind the 2010 numbers.

The 2020 census has been an uphill battle from the start, launching in March right as COVID-19 cases began to proliferate across Santa Clara County. A plan to launch door-to-door outreach was immediately scrapped in favor of phone calls, mailers and social media.

Even without a global pandemic, Santa Clara County's cultural diversity and need for multilingual services make it the ninth most challenging place to get an accurate census count in the entire country, said Deputy County Executive David Campos at an Aug. 27 press conference. Along with a huge investment coming straight from the general fund, the county started planning for the census more than three years ago, he said.

"The reality is that these are challenging and unprecedented times, and the level of investment the county is making is unprecedented, but we know that we can do nothing less than what we are doing for our community," Campos said.

While Santa Clara County's response rate has been uneven, the overall results have been positive: The county currently ranks within the top three response rates in California, Campos said.

Board President Cindy Chavez said at the Sept. 1 Board of Supervisors meeting that time is running out to get hard-to-count communities to respond. The Census Bureau had originally extended the deadline to Oct. 31, but announced last month that it would stop collecting data on Sept. 30. She said the money is intended to bring back the door-to-door knocking campaign by providing census workers with hazard pay.

In a letter to supervisors, Silicon Valley Community Foundation President Nicole Taylor said the county's current results amount to a "tremendous" accomplishment, but that low-response areas cannot be left uncounted.

"With the devastating impact of COVID-19 and the recent fires, it is clearer than ever that our region needs to have every resource available for a strong recovery and an accurate census count is key," Taylor wrote.

Results from the decennial census count will have a profound financial and political impact for the next 10 years. Not only does the census determine congressional seats, but it is used as the basis for allocating $1 trillion in annual aid to state and local governments.

In some ways, throwing in an extra $1 million on the census is a sound investment, said Supervisor Mike Wasserman. If the county generates an estimated $1,800 per person per year over 10 years, the boost in funding would be nearly paid off if it counts just 50 more people.

"I think this money is well spent, and I think in this case it's spending money to make money," Wasserman said.

Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said she supported the bump in funding, but said the county should extend its campaign beyond just the most severely undercounted census tracts in San Jose and Gilroy — specifically District 5, which includes North County cities such as Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

Last year, worries swirled that there could be an undercount of noncitizens and Latino communities after President Donald Trump's administration sought to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The decision was subject to six lawsuits, and was blocked by the Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote.

County staff describe the actions of the Trump administration as an attempt to "undermine the integrity (of the census) through fear and intimidation" by attempting to exclude undocumented immigrants. The Sept. 30 timeline only adds to those concerns.

"The most recent strategy to sabotage the census has been a reduction in the time available to federal, state and local governments to ensure an accurate census count by moving the deadline up by one month," according to a staff report.

Residents can go to my2020census.gov to fill out the census online or call 844-330-2020 to respond over the phone.

Kevin Forestieri writes for the Mountain View Voice, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Comments

Novelera
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm
Novelera, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm
7 people like this

I am very happy to read about this. I did my census filing online months ago. But not everyone has the luxury of good internet and a good computer. The moving up of the deadline for the census so as to curtail the numbers by the Trump administration is one more demonstration of the evil intent of this cabal of crooks working with him.


maguro_01
Registered user
Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2020 at 11:09 pm
maguro_01, Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2020 at 11:09 pm
2 people like this

The Sunnyvale census office recently laid off a number of census takers for lack of work since the district including Mountain View was considered done. Perhaps Spanish and other language speakers were retained and sent to other "zones".


maguro_01
Registered user
Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2020 at 11:38 pm
maguro_01, Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2020 at 11:38 pm
Like this comment

@novelera - This story, below, does lend credence to your post. It does look like part of the Administration's re-election campaign is to spend $250 million of our taxpayer's money just before the election on a heavy media campaign about how good things are with respect to the Covid-19 virus, a plague where this administration has not exactly distinguished itself. It's to be run by a former Trump campaign staffer.

Web Link

"...The Department of Health and Human Services plans to spend $250 million in media communications to “defeat despair and inspire hope” around the coronavirus pandemic, according to a media report...."


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.