Once every ten years, the federal government is required by the Constitution to count every single person in the United States and its territories. This year, the Census will be taken online for the first time ever! However, if you feel more comfortable completing the form by mail or by phone, you will be able to do that too. The questionnaire will be available in 13 languages to ensure that every family can access this important civic duty.
The City of Shoreline is committed to having a complete count- we need everyone to participate in the census to ensure that we get our fair share of funding from the state and federal government. Your response matters in so many ways: The Census is used to allocate funding for many government programs and determines how many legislators and Electoral College votes the State of Washington receives.
See below for the answers to some frequently asked questions about the Census as well as additional resources.
What will the Census ask?
The Census will ask about you and the people living in your household. Questions include:
- How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020. This will help us count the entire U.S. population and ensure that we count people according to where they live on Census Day.
Whether the home is owned or rented. This will help produce statistics about home ownership and renting. The rates of home ownership serve as one indicator of the nation's economy. They also help in administering housing programs and informing planning decisions.
- The sex of each person in your home. This creates statistics about males and females, which can be used in planning and funding government programs. This data can also be used to enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination.
- The age of each person in your home. The U.S. Census Bureau creates statistics to better understand the size and characteristics of different age groups. Agencies use this data to plan and fund government programs that support specific age groups, including children and older adults.
The race of each person in your home. This creates statistics about race and provides other statistics by racial groups. This data helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
Whether a person in your home is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. These responses help create statistics about this ethnic group. This is needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
- The relationship of each person in your home. This allows the Census Bureau to create estimates about families, households, and other groups. Relationship data is used in planning and funding government programs that support families, including people raising children alone.
Governments, businesses, communities, and nonprofits all rely on the data that these questions produce to make critical decisions.
I heard a rumor about the Census. How do I know what’s real and what’s fake?
Rumors abound with every census, and many scammers attempt to take advantage of confusion by creating fake solicitations for your private information. The Census Bureau will never ask for your social security number, banking or credit card information, or any donations or action on behalf of a political party. Also, please know that the census will not ask about the citizenship status of any member of your family!
How can I be sure the data I provide is protected?
The Census Bureau takes your information privacy very seriously. Personal data is stored within the Census Bureau and can only be shared with other agencies for statistical purposes once all identifying information has been removed.
How does the Census impact government spending in my community?
Data from the decennial census is used to determine how half a trillion dollars in federal funds will be distributed to state and local governments! Census data are used to allocate funding for Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start, highway planning and construction, to name a few.
I live in a dormitory, group home, or other shared living facility. How do I complete the Census?
People who live in group homes or dormitories may be counted differently than individuals in private homes. See these resources to determine how you will be counted:
How will unhoused neighbors in my community be counted?
Our unhoused neighbors will be able to take the census online or by phone. The Census Bureau will coordinate with local service providers such as shelters, meal centers, group homes, and other places where homeless families may receive services to ensure that they are counted. If you have a friend or family member temporarily staying with you because they do not have their own housing, you should be sure to include them on your census response form.
How will members of the military be counted?
Most members of the military are responsible for submitting their own Census response online, by mail, or over the phone. However, members staying in military barracks or dormitories on April 1, 2020 will be counted a little differently.