While enumerators in Los Angeles County started going door to door in August, census tracts, or sections, in South L.A. — a historically undercounted area — show that under half of homes have filled out the census on their own. The abrupt ending has community organizers concerned over the rushed timeline. The U.S. Census Bureau does not release tract-level data from enumeration, making it difficult for community organizers to determine who’s being missed.
A key part of the South L.A. community is the USC University Park neighborhood, which is connected to many of the low-responding tracts. Students should be counted based on where they live and sleep most of the year, according to the bureau, and are responsible for responding independently if they lived off-campus as of April 1.
Chris Ponsiglione, director of USC Housing, noted that the university sent on-campus student data to the bureau.
“We provided information to the census in May as requested about the number of students who would have been living in on-campus housing as of April 1, 2020, even though most students went home early because of the transition to online classes,” Ponsiglione said in an email to Annenberg Media.
Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), the congressional representative for the USC University Park area in South L.A., says another undercount puts funding at risk for the next 10 years for critical needs such as education, health care and road infrastructure. California loses around $1,000 annually for every person missed in the census, according to the state’s census office.
“The Trump administration is halting the census to purposefully deprive communities of color federal resources. Period,” said Bass in an email to Annenberg Media. “The consequences of that erasure will be dire. This will be particularly felt in communities of color which have been disproportionately ravaged by COVID-19.”
Any person living in the U.S. as of April 1 has until 11:59 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time on Oct. 15, or 2:59am PDT on October 16, to respond online or must ensure their paper questionnaire is postmarked by the deadline.