For the first time in history, the primary way to respond to the U.S. Census count will be via the Internet, which may be a challenge for many older adults who have been accustomed to a paper count every 10 years.
Between March 12 and 20, most households will receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census questionnaire online. Some households will still receive paper questionnaires. Every household in the U.S. – citizens and non-citizens – is required by law to complete the form. Households that do not respond after multiple reminders will receive personal visits at home from U.S. Census workers to help the households complete the forms. The U.S. Census Bureau does not contact households by email or phone.
A recent U.S. Census Bureau survey found that 56 percent of people in America who are 65 and older are not comfortable with the prospect of an online response due to concerns ranging from privacy and cybersecurity to lack of experience filling out forms on the Internet.
According to Akila Gibbs, executive director of the Pasadena Senior Center, these concerns will have to be overcome through communication and education if the 2020 Census is to be a success.
“This will be a matter of ensuring that older adults can embrace this new digital system, and the stakes for success are very high,” said Gibbs. “We are conducting outreach to make sure our members and other older adults in Pasadena know there will be Internet-based computers available at the Pasadena Senior Center where they can fi ll out the Census form in about 10 minutes as well as receive technology assistance if needed. This center is a vital community resource, now in the 60th year of providing programs and services to the Pasadena community.”
Similar public computers will be available at other locations throughout Pasadena, including community centers and libraries. There also will be options for responding by phone and by mail, although the U.S. Census Bureau will strongly encourage primarily online responses to save hundreds of millions of dollars.
The data collected determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, fair boundaries for federal and state legislative districts based on where populations have increased or decreased, and the annual distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds nationwide to support local community services ranging from health programs and housing assistance to education and infrastructure for the next decade. An incomplete count means fewer federal dollars to boost local resources.
In Pasadena, more than $400 million in funding was received after the 2010 count for local programs that help support this generation of children and adults, including senior citizens, and help shape the community’s future.
Gibbs added that older adults should be especially cautious about potential scams from unscrupulous people who will claim to represent the U.S. Census Bureau and attempt to prey on this vulnerable populace with the intent of stealing identities and money.
“The most important message I have for any person who receives an uninvited email or phone call from someone claiming to be from the U.S. Census Bureau is this: It is 100 percent guaranteed that it is a scam, and you should not provide any information whatsoever, including your Social Security number, bank information or credit card numbers, and never, ever agree to send money in any form,” said Gibbs. “If anyone receives such an email or phone call, do not engage the sender, and be sure to call the Pasadena Police Department to report the scam.”
For more information about the 2020 U.S. Census, visit www.2020Census.gov or call 844-330-2020.
For more information about the programs and services of the Pasadena Senior Center, visit www.pasadenaseniorcenter.org or call 626-795-4311.
Founded in 1960, the Pasadena Senior Center is an independent, donor-supported nonprofit organization that offers recreational, educational, wellness and social services to people ages 50 and over in a welcoming environment. Services are also provided for frail, low-income and homebound seniors.