City officials are encouraging residents to fill out the 2020 census before the county period closes. Courtesy image.

There are 12 days left to complete the 2020 Census before it closes at midnight on Sept. 30. So far only 66.5 percent of Santa Monica’s households have responded to this essential survey, which will determine the distribution of $115 billion in federal funding across cities in California.

The Census is taken once every 10 years and this year’s results will determine the money Santa Monica receives for many programs including Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, Pell Grants, and highway maintenance. It will also determine whether California gains, loses, or maintains the same number of seats in the House of Representatives.

“Census workers have been going door to door in Santa Monica, at personal risk in a pandemic, and yet we know there remain far too many households uncounted,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown. “Every single Santa Monican matters for future federal representation and funding. Every Santa Monican missed just doesn’t count, and we have only days left.”

Each household needs one person over the age of 15 to respond to the Census. The survey can be filled out online at 2020Census.gov, over the phone by calling 844-330-2020, or by mailing back a paper questionnaire.

On Monday at 6 p.m. City Council Member Kristin McCowan will be participating in an online forum with Rep. Ted Lieu to discuss why a full Census count is essential for California’s 33rd District. The live stream will take place at facebook.com/RepTedLieu.

“Every facet of public life is affected by the Census, which is why a complete and accurate count is so essential. The data collected through the Census determines billions of dollars in federal funds to communities for infrastructure, hospitals, health programs, schools, road maintenance, transportation, and senior services,” said L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “Not filling out your Census means your community could get less funding and less representation. Please do your civic duty and fill out the Census!”

The Census looks a little different this year than it has in previous counts. Firstly, there is the option to fill out the survey online for the first time. And secondly, it has occurred during a dangerous pandemic that has limited the ability of Census takers to visit households.

Field operations were suspended in mid-March, had a phased restart in May, and continued throughout the summer. Although the online option means the Census has never been easier to take, there are fears that people will be undercounted, making it all the more important for Santa Monicans to respond.

As required in the Constitution, the U.S. Census has taken place every decade since 1970. It strives to record every person living in the U.S. including citizens, residents, long-term visitors, and undocumented immigrants. It also counts people residing in the U.S.’s five territories: Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This year’s Census will determine the next 10 years of seat distribution in the House of Representatives and direct almost $1 trillion in federal funding.

Clara@smdp.com