Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

The Census is a survey taken every ten years with the intention of counting every person living in the United States. It is mandated by the Constitution and designed to count every person once, and only once, in the right place.

The Census has been taking place every ten years since 1790. The next census will be in 2020. Self-response will begin online on March 12, 2020 and stay open through April 30, 2020. Beginning in May, the Census Bureau will begin sending enumerators out door to door to count people who did not self-respond.

The Census is roughly 10 questions per household member. The survey asks for basic demographic data such as race, sex, and age in addition to a few other statistical questions like if the home is rented or owned.

The results of the Census are used for three main purposes: representation, federal funding, and data. 


It is critically important to count every person in the United States so that the government can ensure all residents get proper representation. Census counts determine how many Congressmembers each state gets in the House of Representatives and congressional, state senate, and state assembly district lines are drawn based on the amount of people in any given area. 

Federal Funding 

Census data determines how more than $675 billion of the federal budget gets spent across the nation every year. In California specifically, a third of our state budget comes from the federal government to pay for programs like Medi-Cal, public education, housing infrastructure and housing assistance programs.


Most of the population-driven data and research we have about our country comes from the Census. It is critically important to have accurate data so that government, businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, etc can properly analyze the landscape of our country.

In 2020, the Census will be available online for the first time in history! Households can fill it out on any phone, tablet, or computer with internet connection, by calling the Census Bureau and filling it out verbally, or by requesting a paper copy to send to the Census Bureau directly. 

The CensusIE Coalition is committed to ensuring a complete and accurate count of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, but in order to achieve this we are prioritizing the hardest-to-count communities. Hard to count, or hard to reach, people are those who have a history of not participating in the Census. There are a great number of factors that could influence someone responding or not responding to the census, including but not limited to: 

  • Communities of Color – Latinx, Black and African Americans, Native Americans and tribal communities, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Middle Eastern and North Africans 
  • Immigrants and Refugees 
  • Farm-workers 
  • People with Disabilities 
  • LGBTQ identifying folks 
  • Seniors/Older Adults 
  • Children 0-5 
  • Homeless individuals and families
  • Veterans 
  • Areas with low/no broadband subscriptions
  • Households with limited English proficiency 

It is required by federal law to respond to, complete, and truthfully answer the Census Questionnaire. People who do not self-respond by April 30th or submit an incomplete survey are subject to being visited by an enumerator.

Do you or your family members use or value any of the following programs or services?

  • Public schools 
  • Public Transportation 
  • Highway infrastructure 
  • Medical programs like Medi-Cal or the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Unemployment Insurance and recruitment services 
  • Affordable Housing Programs
  • Prison reentry programs 

All of these services or programs are funded based on population-data derived from Census counts. Ensuring your household is properly counted in the 2020 Census means ensuring that these programs and services are set up to properly serve your community!  

Yes! Title 13 of the United States Code requires the Census Bureau to keep your information confidential and use your responses only to produce statistics. The government cannot publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you. They also cannot share your information with immigration enforcement agencies such as ICE, law enforcement agencies such as the FBI or police, or allow it to be used to determine your eligibility for government benefits. Any violation of this law can result in imprisonment up to 5 years and/or a fine up to $250,000. 

The 2020 Census questionnaire will NOT include a question about an individual’s citizenship status. Everyone, regardless of their immigration status, has certain basic rights. For those who have concerns about opening your doors, there are other ways you can participate. You can participate online and over the phone, from the comfort of your home or a community run assistance center. Please complete your census questionnaire, your participation is vital, and your information is protected. An incomplete questionnaire may increase your chances of non-response follow-up by the United States Census Bureau.

Census Day is a nationally observed day to acknowledge census enumeration. Next year Census Day is April 1 2020; by this date all households should have been invited to self-respond. 

How Do I Respond If...

The self-response period is open until April 30, 2020. If you have a child prior to April 30th include them in the count of your household. If your child is born after April 30th, do not include them as a member of your household. 

The census questionnaire is designed to capture residents where they live at the time of submission. Even if your housing situation is temporary, you should fill out the census using the address you sleep at on that day. Additionally, it is important that your entire residence be included in this count; be sure to coordinate with your roommates/housemates so that everyone is marked down. 

For students attending boarding school or commuting to college from home, you should be counted at your parent or guardian’s home address. For college students living on or near campus, you should be counted where you eat and sleep most of the time, even if you are home or on break on Census Day! 

Foreign students attending school in the US should count themselves at their on or off-campus residence. On the flip side, American students studying internationally should not be counted as they are not currently living in the country. 

You should fill out the census for wherever you and your household is living on that date. If you fill out the census while you are still in the process of transitioning homes, you should indicate yourself at your previous address. If your new home is in your name and your belongings and family are all transitioned you should indicate yourself at your new address – even if you are not fully set up yet. 

The census questionnaire is designed to capture residents where they live at the time of submission. It is important that everyone at your address be counted where they are – however temporary, however crowded. Even if one family is upstairs and a different family is downstairs, or one family is in the main house and another is in the back house, everyone should be counted! 

Please note that this information is used only for statistical and funding purposes.None of this information will be shared with landlords, law enforcement, immigration agencies, or the IRS. 

Have a question you do not see answered above? Email with any other questions you may have!

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