Census workers continue to move through Santa Monica in an effort to complete the work. Courtesy Photo.

As the U.S. Census Bureau continues to follow up with households who have not yet responded to the 2020 census, officials are asking residents in Santa Monica and the surrounding areas to complete their survey as soon as possible.

The 2020 census is the first digital census so this year is the first time that people anywhere in the country can complete the census if they have wifi access. But the current self-response rate in the City of Santa Monica is only about 68 percent, meaning there are still a number of households who have to respond to the once-in-a-decade survey that will determine the distribution of $115 billion in federal funding across cities in California, media specialist Patricia Ramos said in an interview Friday.

Participation in the 2020 Census is essential to the local community because it allows residents to secure a fair share of federal funding that could be utilized at schools, during emergency services and other essential infrastructure programs. Census data is also used to determine congressional representation and how much money Santa Monica receives for programs like Medicare, Section 8 housing vouchers, and highway maintenance. “So that’s why its imperative for everyone to participate — from newborns to an elderly person who is living in a home,” Ramos said. It’s also important to keep in mind that census-takers should use April 1, as the cutoff date when determining who was living in your home this year.

Residents who respond will not need to be visited by Census officials, according to Ramos, who noted the bureau will never provide names, addresses or any other identifiable, personal information to the legislature or White House staff. “So, that’s all the more reason for people to respond to the census,” because they don’t have to worry about any citizenship questions or an invasion of privacy.

Households can still respond now by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received, by responding online at 2020census.gov, or by phone at 844-330-2020. The survey can be taken in one of 13 languages, Ramos said, stating the census bureau is counting through the end of the month but, unfortunately, the entire Westside is struggling to respond.

“It’s such an important five to 10 minutes because it’s really an investment in your community and your city for the next 10 years… We don’t want to leave anybody out,” Ramos said. “It’s so important for our community and for our state and for our country. People often say it doesn’t impact them daily but if you’re taking a bus or your car often drops into a pothole — that can possibly be fixed with a good census count.”