U.S. Census forms are in the mail | NevadaAppeal.com

U.S. Census forms are in the mail

The first invitations to take the census are arriving at households across Nevada and the nation.

There are just over 1.2 million households in Nevada and 143 million nationwide.

This is the first year that people will be able to fill out their census questionnaire online, on the phone or on paper.

Those who want to get a head start can do so through the official portal at https://my2020census.gov.

A spokesman for the Census Bureau said participating in the census is important because the results determine how the more than $675 billion in federal grants and appropriations are distributed among the 50 states and U.S. territories. That includes entitlement programs such as Medicaid, food stamps and CHIP, the children’s health insurance program, as well as such things as federal highway funds, housing and food programs. Altogether, census data is used to distribute federal funding to 132 programs.

Officials say that means an under-count caused by people not responding could cost potentially millions of dollars the state is entitled to. Officials point out that an undercount would disproportionately impact communities of color, low-income families and those with disabilities who rely more on those services and programs.

The invitations are addressed to “Resident,” not to an individual by name.

In Nevada, the majority of households will receive an invitation to complete the census form online since about 81 percent of the state’s households have access to broadband internet.  They can also complete the form by phone or traditional mail.

Those in areas less likely to have access to the internet will receive a paper questionnaire this coming week.

About 5 percent will receive their census form from a census taker. Those are households that don’t receive mail at their physical address such as in a P.O. Box.

About 1 percent of households will be counted in person by a census taker. The bureau does that in very remote areas such as remote Alaska. In Nevada, that might include some American Indian communities that ask to be counted in person.

Officials say more than 99 percent of all households will be able to respond to the census in their native language.

The census can be taken in 12 languages including Spanish, Tagalog for those from the Philippines and Vietnamese. Nevada has a substantial Spanish speaking population as well as numerous Philippine immigrants.

Other languages on the list include Chinese — Mandarin and Cantonese — Korean, Arabic, French, Russian and Japanese.

The questionnaire does not ask a person’s citizenship or immigration status. It does ask for basic demographic information including race and age of each person in the house and their relationship with the others living there.

It does not count those away at college, in the military, a nursing home, prison or other detention facility. They are counted at those places.

Those households that don’t respond will receive a reminder March 16-24. A second reminder letter and paper census form will come April 8-16 if a household hasn’t responded. In areas with 20 percent or more households where the primary language is Spanish, that questionnaire will be bilingual.

A third reminder will come April 20-27. After that, a census taker will visit the residence in May.