2020 Census: Questions Answered, Myths Debunked

Stand up and be counted in the national Census in April 2020!

HANA is proud to support Tarrant County in encouraging everyone to take part. Find out why your participation matters, how your responses are kept confidential, why your SSN and residency status are not included, how to participate if you’re a college student (or parent of college student), and much more. 

Why Participate in the Census?

First, participation is required for all residents by Article 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution.

Your participation alone means $16,000 in funding for the local community during the next decade.

Second, for every person counted, our local community earns $1600 per year for the next 10 years. Your participation alone means $16,000 in funding for the local community during the next decade, including Head Start, school lunch programs, MHMR, and many more programs. Locally, we had only a 76% self-response rate in 2010, meaning that we missed out on an additional 24% of funding at the US, state, and local levels.

Third, the number of Congressional representatives is based on Census data. For example, Texas gained two additional seats in Congress as a result of the last Census and is expected to receive additional seats based on the 2020 Census. 

Fourth, economic growth depends on Census data as well. Grocery stores, for example, rely on Census data to determine where they need to be. Same for other programs and services that cater to specific populations.

Is My Data Shared?

Your individual data is confidential and not shared with anyone—not ICE, not the IRS, not landlords, and not any other person or entity.

Your individual data is confidential and not shared with anyone—not ICE, not the IRS, not landlords, and not any other person or entity. Canvassers, including those who take information by phone have sworn an oath to maintain confidentiality for life of Census information they collect. Confidentiality protection is provided for under Title 13 of US Code. Only after 72 years is Census information made public for genealogical and historical analysis. For example, the 1950 census data will be available in 2023, including names, addresses, ages, and date of birth.

Instead, your answers to the Census questions become part of anonymous statistics, which are used for decisions and funding mentioned in the previous question. For example, the number of residential homes in a zip code might be used to determine if an additional grocery store is needed in the area. Or the number of school-age children in a zip code might help determine funding for school programs.

This 2020 Census and Confidentiality brochure provides more information on these and related topics:

  • Participating in the Census helps shape your community
  • The Census Bureau is required by law to keep your responses safe and secure
  • By law, your responses cannot be used against you—no exceptions
  • You can participate online, via mail, or by phone

What’s on the Census Questionnaire?

The Census questionnaire focuses on these questions for each person living in your household:

  1. How many people were living or staying in this residence on April 1, 2020?
  2. Were there any additional people staying here on April 1 that you did not include in Question 1?
  3. Is this residence:
  • Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan
  • Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear
  • Rented
  • Occupied without payment or rent
  1. What is your telephone number?
  2. Provide information for each person living here:
  • What is person 1’s name?
  • What is Person 1’s sex?
  • What is Person 1’s age and date of birth?
  • Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
  • What is Person 1’s race?

You can view and download this Sample Census Questionnaire to get an idea of the format.

Will I Need to Disclose My SSN or Residency Status?

No! See for yourself on this sample questionnaire:

  • The questionnaire does not ask for a social security number.
  • The questionnaire does not ask any questions about citizenship or residency status.

What If I’m a College Student (or Parent of a College Student)?

College students will be counted where they live, regardless of permanent address. The rationale is that the student will likely be in that location for a year to five years, so the benefit should go to that community. Only college students who live with parents fulltime should be counted in the family household. This means that a large portion of UTA students will be counted in Arlington, and we will receive the benefit from those students for the next 10 years.

What If Members of My Family Don’t Speak English?

The Census questionnaire will be available in 13 languages online. The Census website contains additional instructions in 59 languages.

How Do I Participate?

By mid-March, you should receive an official Census Bureau mailing with detailed information about responding to the 2020 Census. Then by April 1st, you will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census either online, by phone, or by mail.

What Happens if I Don’t Participate?

In the event that all attempts to collect data from a household are ignored, canvassers will obtain Census data for those households by proxy—for example, from neighbors or apartment leasing agents. Those who don’t participate may also face potential legal penalties for failing to participate!

Where Do I Go for More Information?

For more information about the 2020 Census, view or download this 2020 Census Guide or visit the 2020 Census page on the Tarrant County website.

Thanks to Tarrant County 2020 Census for providing the brochures and samples provided with this article.

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