On March 12, the U.S. Census Bureau mailed letters to tens of millions of U.S. households inviting the public to participate in the 2020 Census-- via the internet (for the first time in Census history), by phone or paper questionnaire. Unfortunately, COVID-19 emerged one week into the 2020 Census, wreaking havoc on Census operations and delaying critical enumeration efforts.
As Census addresses these issues, the self-response rate has been low, especially amongst Blacks. Overall, the estimated national self-response rate as of May 2020 was 57.7 percent. The response rate in majority Black areas is 47.6 percent. Furthermore, half of the U.S. foreign born population lives in Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York were the response rate is even lower, 39.7 percent.
Additionally, rural populations without internet access have not been fully enumerated, nor have college students sent home to shelter in place, or the homeless, our most vulnerable population.
Not only is the decennial census mandated in the U.S. Constitution, ensuring the apportionment of Congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College, it provides local and state parameters for school districts, wards, parishes, Congressional districts, and more. Equally important, the census count determines the allocation of more than $1.2 trillion dollars in federal funding each year to communities nationwide for programs like SNAP, Section 8, TANF, school lunch programs, healthy baby nutritional programs, WIC, Head Start, Medicaid, hospitals, and public transportation subsidies.