County officials working for accurate Census count

I have previously written about the 2020 Census work our county is doing, and I feel it is important to revisit this and share with you the importance of the Census – including ways you can get involved.

As mandated in the Constitution, the federal government counts all persons living in the United States every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau collects this information, which is then used to determine the number of representatives in Congress each state will have and how $675 billion in federal funds flows to tribal, state and local governments.

The Census is the benchmark for the next decade of key decisions for our communities. It is of utmost importance that Contra Costa County achieve a full count. This data is used to make decisions at every level of government and informs so much in our communities, such as the roads we drive on, siting of schools, hospitals and public services. It also provides employers with economic information and offers data to draw federal, state and local legislative voting districts.

Other examples of programs with funding dependent on Census data include:

Transportation: highway planning and construction.
Children: foster care, nutritional school lunch programs.
Health and nutrition: Medicaid, Medicare Part B, health center programs.
Schools: Head Start, special education grants, Title I grants.
Affordable housing: Section 8, low-income home energy assistance
Other: Community Development Block Grants

California receives about $76 billion in federal funds based on population. Contra Costa County gets 40 percent of its revenue from state and federal resources. If the county undercounts by 5 percent, we would lose an estimated $1.1 billion over 10 years. This is why we have been actively engaging partners in the county to make sure that everyone is counted once, only once, and in the right place.

A significant change in the 2020 Census is that this is the first time it will be online. This will make it easier to respond, because there are more options for self-response with the intent of reducing door-to-door canvassing. However, with these improvements come some challenges, in particular inequitable access to the internet.

Contra Costa County has established a Complete Count Steering Committee. This committee brings together community leaders, nonprofit agencies and media experts to work together to ensure we have a complete count in 2020, in particular in the “hardest to count” populations in the county. The committee established Regional Working Groups in four regions across the county to better connect with local organizations, businesses, faith groups and residents.

The Steering Committee meets noon-2 p.m. the third Monday of the month in the Paramount Conference Room, 777 Arnold Dr., Martinez. Meetings are open to public.

On Dec. 11, there will be a Central County Regional Work Group meeting for community-based organizations and interested individuals who would like to help get an accurate Census count. This meeting will be 9:30 a.m.-noon at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County, 4010 Nelson Ave., Concord.

The Census Bureau is also hiring in our area. It takes a lot of people to help count everyone.

For more information, visit or

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Mitchoff at