“Broadly speaking, if you live in a home that receives mail, you will get a notification through the mail,” said Michael Perry, Siskiyou County Librarian and local representative for the Census 2020 Outreach Effort.

The 2020 U.S. Census got underway last week with the first of multiple mailings encouraging residents to participate. The first round of nationwide mailings goes out between March 12 and 20. Follow-up mailings will be sent to those who do not respond.

“Broadly speaking, if you live in a home that receives mail, you will get a notification through the mail,” said Michael Perry, Siskiyou County Librarian and local representative for the Census 2020 Outreach Effort. “They won’t call you. They won’t email you. They will send (communication) only through the mail initially.”

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, the country has counted its population every 10 years since 1790. Besides determining the allotment of seats in Congress, the census determines where billions of dollars in government funding gets distributed at the state and local level. The multiple mailings in this year’s census are part of an effort to make the process more effective and efficient.

“The enumerators, the people that come after the initial attempts to reach you, are limited,” said Perry. “When more people self-report, then the more that in-person contact can be focused on those that are harder to reach.”

The first mailing directs residents to participate in the census by April 1, either online through www.my2020census.gov or through the telephone at 1-844-330-2020. Instructions are available in multiple languages. One person per household should be able complete the form in about fifteen minutes. All answers are completely confidential. Everyone, not just citizens of the U.S. or long-term residents of the county, need to be counted.

“If you’re a day old, you get counted. If you live in a dorm room, you get counted.” said Perry. “Citizenship is not a requirement; I hold a green card and am participating in the census. If you are here, you get to participate.”

He added that taking part in the census is a low-barrier activity with a tremendous impact. “The dollar figures (from government funding) are truly in the number of people in the county. It drives decisions about how much money to invest in roads, how much money to invest in schools, how much money to invest in healthcare.”

“The difference between 45,000 and 45,500 doesn’t sound like a lot, but in a particular age group that can be huge, if they know how many kids there are for instance. It’s the same with the funding of the hospital – all based on population served.”

The census gathers information on current household size and type, as well as the gender, age and ethnicity of any residents. However, there are some things that will never be asked by the census. The Census Bureau does not collect social security numbers, money or donations, information on political party affiliation, bank or credit records, or last names.

The U.S. Census Bureau will mail a second reminder between March 26 and April 3. A third reminder will follow between April 8 and 16. At the end of March, census enumerators will conduct a count of the homeless populations. Residents who fail to respond to the mailings will be visited in-person by an enumerator from the census sometime in May or June.

For more information, visit www.census.gov, follow the links at the county website www.co.siskiyou.ca.us, or call the bureau toll free at 1-844-330-2020.