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Census 2020 What is the Census?

The United States Census is a national population count, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. It takes place every 10 years.

Why the Census Matters

Information from the census shapes our communities and influences our city voice in Congress. The census tells us who we are as a nation and what we need.

The data are used to distribute around $700 billion in federal funds to local communities in areas such as healthcare, housing, education, and transportation. Programs like Medicaid, SNAP, Head Start, and highway construction are allocated based on the census. In 2016 alone, Illinois received $35 billion in census-determined funding for these and other programs.

An accurate census ensures equal political representation and fair allocation of government resources. For example, census data are used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives, and to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts. Census data are also used at the local level: the City of Chicago relies on population counts to make important decisions about local policies and funding.

Participation in the census is the right and responsibility of every Chicago resident.

Chicago’s Census Priorities

The City of Chicago is committed to helping every Chicagoan participate in the 2020 Census. The City pledges to:

  1. Ensure a fair, complete, and accurate count of every individual living in Chicago.

  2. Develop culturally-appropriate strategies for hard-to-count populations.

  3. Mobilize resources in an inclusive manner for census hiring, public engagement, and outreach.

  4. Ensure digital access and equity during the first census when a majority of Chicagoans will be invited to respond online.

What does this mean to you? If you live in Chicago and do not know how to complete the census, reach out to us and check out our Frequently Asked Questions. We will direct you to the resources you need. If you would like to help us ensure that every Chicagoan gets counted, get involved and check back regularly for opportunities to help your community get out the count.

How to Respond to the Census

The census is one of the government’s most important responsibilities and it helps decide where federal money is spent. It is often described as the government’s largest peacetime mobilization. You should respond to the census regardless of your immigration status, housing status, age, race, or ability.

Your answers to the census are protected by law. It is unlawful for your confidential responses to be used against you by a government agency or court.

How can I respond?

March 2020: You will receive a postcard in the mail that invites you to respond online, by phone, or by mail. You can respond either online or on the phone in 13 languages. Some Chicagoans may also receive a paper census form in the mail at this time.

April 2020: You will receive reminders to complete the census, and if you haven’t completed the census by mid-April you will receive a paper census form in the mail. Census employees will visit nursing homes, colleges and universities, shelters, and other group living locations to help you complete the census at this time.

May 2020: If you have not responded to the census by May, Census Bureau employees will visit your home to help you complete the census in person. You are still able to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail throughout the month.

July 2020: Census operations and in-person visits will wrap up by the end of July.

Hard-to-Count Communities Interactive Map

Certain parts of the country are identified as hard-to-count communities. Historically, these communities have had low census self-response rates and have depended on in-person visits to each non-responding household to be counted. Chicago is committed to helping its hard-to-count communities complete the 2020 Census.

You can visit Census 2020 Hard to Count Map to view hard-to-count communities in Chicago and the rest of the United States.