LA Requests Increased Funding for 2020 Census

LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to support legislative action that provides funds to cities for outreach and educational programs in the state’s effort towards a “complete count” for the 2020 census.

Council members voted 11-0 to lobby for increased state funding for local “complete count” committees. Los Angeles’ committee will set up census kiosks in city facilities, organize educational events and coordinate with county officials to avoid duplication during census counts.

The resolution, introduced by City Council President Herb Wesson, called the census “essential for government agencies, private businesses, and research professionals serving the U.S. population.”

An inaccurate count could lead to inadequate federal and state funding and “adversely affect the City’s representation in Washington, D.C,” it said.

“Data collected by the Census Bureau affect government and private industry decisions such as housing or retail [locations], where to locate job development programs, or where population growth requires additional transit program support,” a 2017 city memo said.

According to the 2017-2018 budget, the state plans to spend $10 million to boost efforts to ensure a complete and accurate count during the federal census set for April 1, 2020. State lawmakers have allocated $3 million for outreach and $7 million for “local assistance,” according to a report by the city’s chief legislative analyst.

Over the next two years, state officials will spend a combined $40.3 million on outreach and planning efforts, $3 million of which will go to cities.

LA County officials have already testified before the State Senate Budget Committee to request an increase of $8.7 million in state funds for local outreach efforts in Los Angeles County alone.

As justification for a request for increased funding, city officials cite the impact of an additional $1.5 million in census count efforts in the lead up to the 2010 census. Los Angeles census officials identified over 700,000 new addresses, of which more than 400,000 were accepted by the Census Bureau.

“The effect was that the city’s housing unit count in 2010 was one of the most complete in the nation,” the memo said.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census of the nation’s population every ten years in order to gather data population, demographic information and set the number of each state’s congressional representatives.

The 2020 census will be the first to be implemented primarily online and is expected to cost an estimated $15.6 billion.

The resolution, which was approved without discussion, joins a Jan. vote by the LA County Board of Supervisors to oppose the inclusion of a controversial question on documentation status.

For the first time in 70 years, the census will raise a question that will directly impact immigrant communities after the U.S. Department of Justice proposed including a question about an individual’s residency status.

In a Dec. 2017 letter to the U.S Census Bureau Director John Thompson, DOJ attorney Arthur Gary justified the request to reinstate the citizenship question by stating it was part of department efforts to prevent racial discrimination in voting.

The DOJ wanted to prevent “vote dilution” which occurs when a racial group, which is the majority of the population, is improperly counted as a minority, preventing it from attaining accurate representation in Congress and it’s fair share of federal funding, according to the letter.

“The Department needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting- age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected,” Gary said.

City lawmakers said the new proposal would disproportionately affect vulnerable communities in Los Angeles, such as immigrant communities.

“Many of the communities in Los Angeles face socioeconomic and demographic challenges that result in these areas being significantly undercounted in the Census,” the resolution said.

According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 2.2 million of California’s 40 million residents are undocumented immigrants, and Los Angeles is believed to be home to about 1.5 million of them.

Immigrant rights advocates say the inclusion of a citizenship question will result in an inaccurate count, and, because the census is used as the basis for federal funding, would essentially deny immigrant communities a fair portion of federal resources.

Undocumented immigrants may choose not to respond to census workers out of fear of being targeted for deportation by President Donald Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and 18 states have signed on to a letter denouncing the inclusion of the citizenship question.

California U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have said they also oppose the question being added to the census.

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