SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Cities and counties across California are trying to ensure an accurate 2020 Census count and in many instances, they’ve hired their own workers to supplement the efforts of federal Census takers.
A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to end the nationwide Census count a month early, even as cities and counties ramp their own efforts to insure immigrant communities, minorities and the homeless not overlooked.
“My signature and my name and my future matters,” said Derick Smith, who lives in a sprawling homeless encampment in East San Jose. Smith filled out the census form with help from volunteers with the non-profit Opening Doors 2020.
“These folks are usually undercounted for everything that’s done in the county and in the city of San Jose. They’re usually undercounted for food,” says David Hernandez who helped organize a food giveaway and census outreach. “They’re usually undercounted for housing. And now, what’s most important is making sure they’re counted for the census.”
The data from the Census, which is collected every 10 years, is used to determine political representation in Congress and to allocate federal money for education, housing and transportation projects.
Communities across the Bay Area have hired dozens of workers to help with the census amid growing concerns about the Trump administration’s ability and desire to conduct an accurate count of communities of color, immigrants and the homeless.
East Palo Alto City Councilmember Larry Moody said his city received only a fraction of the federal help and census takers it was promised.
“We were basically told that nine individuals (out of ten) were going to be pulled out of East Palo Alto. And knowing going in that we’re historically a hard-to-identify, hard-to-serve community,” Moody told KPIX 5.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Census Bureau said it was “fully staffed throughout the entire process” but later said the agency’s policy did not allow them to reveal how many census takers were employed in East Palo Alto, San Mateo County or Northern California as a whole.
“With some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s espoused by this administration and because of the fear that’s deeply embedded in some communities here in Santa Clara County, it’s made it very difficult to engage with the community on this process,” said Nick Kuwada, the manager of Santa Clara County’s Office of the Census.