Fears of Census Undercount Might Have Lasting Affect – NBC Los Angeles

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Fears of Census Undercount Could Have Lasting Impact – NBC Los Angeles

Although it is illegal to give out information you give to the census, organizers say there is fear and suspicion of the government and that the worries of census workers who say it is their time to convince people to respond , has been shortened so they work twice to get them the word out.

"There's a point in people who don't really trust the government," said Oscar Cisco, the local census organizer for the nonprofit Council of Mexican Federation.

NBC4's I-Team found that Huntington Park currently has a 58% response rate – that's 12% less than the last census. Los Angeles County is just a tad higher at 63% and California overall at 67.9%.

Other areas with low census response rates include Willowbrook and Watts – both less than 45%.

To find out how your neighborhood is doing, check out an interactive map here or scroll down below.

"Many circumstances and many challenges have helped keep our numbers where they are right now, including COVID, including the economic downturn, including various challenges faced by many of these local community organizations," said Stephania Ramirez of the California Census.

Ramirez adds that a shortened personal census period ordered by the Trump administration is adding even more pressure, especially in densely populated areas.

"It's about money and it's about power. You know, it's about power, possibly two seats in Congress for California. Money, we're talking about millions and millions of resources," Ramirez said.

The effects are widespread, from federal programs for WIC and EBT to school lunches and freeway repair. Recently, a judge ruled legal action assisted by the L.A. attorney to keep the count up. Another hearing is scheduled for September 2020. Time is of the essence.

Meanwhile, volunteers continue to hang reminders on doors, and Cisco says it will keep talking to people and debunking myths.

"A lot of people think because they rent that they don't have to because their landlord will, but they don't," Cisco said. "Equality begins with recognizing that we are here in this country. It is the first step in the right direction."

More information on how to respond to the 2020 census can be found here.

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