What happens if you don’t fill out the 2020 census?

City of San Antonio, Bexar County joining forces to engage, educate community about census

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio and Bexar County are pushing for people to fill out the 2020 census.

The census is a headcount of every person living in the United States. The data collected is used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funding to local communities.

“If we don’t have an accurate count, we don’t have accurate funding for programming and services for our population, for our residents. It’s services related to education, to health care, but it’s also related to transportation,” said Berta Rodriguez, census administrator for the City of San Antonio.

Last year, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County joined forces and established the Complete Count Committee, a volunteer group focused on engaging and educating the community.

“Part of the Complete Count Committee is we have established subcommittees, and those subcommittees are working to target the populations that have historically been undercounted. For example, a senior is one of those, and we have an entire task force that’s focused on seniors,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said an undercount of just 1% of our population in the state of Texas could create a lack of funding of almost $300 million a year.

“The undercount was a little over a million children in 2010,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the committee is focusing on families with children under the age of 5 this year.

“What we know about the undercount is that, usually, it was in households where there was a situation where maybe a grandmother was a caretaker of a child and didn’t understand that she should count that child. Or perhaps there’s two families living together and only one of the families was accounted for in the household,” Rodriguez said.

Something new this year is that people can fill out the questionnaire online.

“We are wanting everyone to understand that they can respond by phone, by mail or on the internet,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said 25% of our population most likely won’t fill out the survey online, by phone or through a paper form.

“So that 25% of the population that my not-self respond is in the category of those that have historically been undercounted. We want to make sure that that doesn’t happen. And that trend, that 25%, translates to a little over 480,000 residents,” Rodriguez said.

The census form will ask questions about age, date of birth and ethnicity. It will not ask for personal information, such as your bank account number, Social Security or immigration status. Responses are kept completely confidential under federal law. They are used only to produce statistics.

Rodriguez said the City of San Antonio invested $394,000 for outreach and marketing for the census plan. She said the county spent $100,000.

People will be able to fill out the survey in mid-March.

Click here to see a sample of the 2020 census.

About the Authors: