07 Aug Urgent: South L.A. on Track to an EPIC Undercount with the 2020 Census
South Los Angeles is on track to have an epic undercount for the 2020 Census. Already one of the nation’s hardest to count cities, L.A. has been hard hit by COVID-19 which is greatly hindering the ability of Census canvassers’ to tally historically “hard to count” populations—renters, individuals who are homeless and immigrant communities that may not participate because of fear.
“When it comes to the Census, South L.A.’s numbers are extremely important to the County. The County of Los Angeles’s count is extremely important for the state of California. When L.A. goes undercounted, the entire state loses—funding, representation and resources,” says Alberto Retana, President & CEO of Community Coalition (CoCo). “That is why Community Coalition has been working so hard to encourage residents to participate in the survey.”
Exacerbating matters is the fact that the Census Bureau recently shortened the opportunity to participate in the Census by a month. The deadline for responding that thousands of organizers, volunteer census canvassers and officials had been working under concluded on Oct. 31. That date is now September 30.
So what does an undercount actually mean for South Los Angeles?
Let’s examine just one reason we need to complete the Census—homelessness which is a top priority for Angelenos. Our city struggles to house more than 44,000 each night. In L.A. County, 34% of the homeless residents in 2019 were Latino. Black people make up 8 percent of the county’s population, but 31% percent of the homeless population. Thirteen thousand seven hundred nineteen are Black, and 12,442 are Brown community members.
In SPA 6, which encompasses South L.A., there were 9,629 residents reported as homeless last year.1 Census dollars fund food programs, medical clinics, shelters, temporary and permanent housing. “The Census gives us the opportunity to strengthen our public health infrastructure and social safety net, the lack of which is being exposed by COVID-19 right now. Taking the Census is another way we can step up for each other, and our communities, during this pandemic,“ said Kirk Samuels, Director of Civic Engagement for CoCo.
While we are safer at home, please take the Census survey online to secure services for all of South L.A.—especially those experiencing homelessness. It’s 10 minutes, 10 questions for 10 years of much-needed funding for South Central. Now that we have the time, let’s take the time to fill out the 2020 Census Survey. It just may be the most impactful way you spend 600 seconds during the quarantine.
1 Homelessness in Los Angeles County 2019, Los Angeles Almanac: http://www.laalmanac.com/social/so14.php