Next year, San Diegans will have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to unlock billions of dollars in federal funds that can address our region’s most pressing needs.

That opportunity is the 2020 Census.

Every 10 years, the U.S. government conducts a count of the entire population to determine how Congressional representation will be apportioned and how much funding to allocate for more than 130 federal programs, including Highway Planning and Construction, Medicaid and Head Start. Business, nonprofits and local leaders also use this data to make strategic decisions and investments for their communities.

The number of residents counted will determine the level of financial support and legislative representation San Diego County receives for the next decade.

That means that when we respond to the Census, we are helping San Diego County get its fair share of billions per year in federal funds that go toward our schools, hospitals, roads and other important programs that support local families.

Encouraging 100% Participation

Historically, important “hard-to-count” communities such as immigrants, young children, and urban and rural low-income households have gone uncounted in the census, particularly in diverse regions like San Diego.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, San Diego County is one of the hardest-to-count regions nationwide. Research shows that the hardest-to-count areas include parts of Oceanside and Escondido in the northwest and, in the southwest, pockets of the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista.

That’s why local leaders and nonprofit organizations are banding together to promote complete participation in the Census and count every San Diegan.

Working with the state and Governor Newsom, who has committed $187 million to regional efforts, local leaders and community-based organizations will play a crucial role in census outreach. They are the most trusted messengers with personal relationships and a deep understanding of the communities they serve. They also see firsthand the effects of underfunding from social services and public programs.

An inaccurate count of our residents can have major implications for the next 10 years, as state leaders learned in 1990. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office of California, the 1990 Census undercounted California’s population by 2.74 percent or 835,000 people. As a result, California gained one fewer seat in Congress than it was entitled to receive and was estimated to have lost over $200 million of federal funds in a single fiscal year.

With so much at stake for San Diego County, we need to ensure an accurate census. Encourage your friends and neighbors to participate in Census 2020.

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