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San Benito
February 28, 2024

County takes part in census program for ‘hard to count’ areas

San Benito County has opted in to a program that aims to ensure the 2020 census reaches so-called “Hard to Count” areas of the community.

The county will receive $75,000 in state funds to take part in a program established to get the most accurate count possible for the upcoming census.

County supervisors OK’d the allocation at last week’s meeting after hearing from Robert Davila, a U.S. Census Bureau partnership specialist. He underscored how every uncounted person amounts to $2,000 in lost funding to the county per year. He offered the example that 500 uncounted people amounts to $1 million in lost funds annually.

“We’re here to support each city and county across the state of California to make sure the count is done properly,” Davila said.

He noted how the key purpose of the census is to accurately apportion members of Congress, and that it’s possible California could lose a seat after 2020.

“The whole purpose of the census is to count everybody once, only once and in the right place,” he said.

That’s where the program focusing on hard-to-count areas comes into play. Davila said people can be reluctant to give accurate counts under such scenarios as illegal living situations, language barriers, immigration matters or someone having bad debt.

“We’re not going to go after them because they’re living there illegally or whatever,” he said.

He emphasized at the census bureau does not pass on any of its information to other federal agencies such as the FBI.

“Our count is used for statistical purposes only,” he said. “That’s part of the message we have to get across to everybody.”

The county will now cooperate with the program to do so and will receive the $75,000 for it. Davila said the first canvassing will take place in the summer of 2019 and the bureau has started opening field offices already.

Supervisors did have some questions before the approval.

Supervisor Jim Gillio asked how people should differentiate between bureau employees and fraudsters, and Davila noted how the federal employees will wear badges and vests similar to those worn by Caltrans.