• The Census Count affects every Santa Marian

    Mark van de Kamp
    Public Information Manager, Santa Maria City Manager's Office

    Why was the calendar nervous? Because its days were numbered! All of us should be excited that the countdown is on to the 2020 Census - only several weeks away - because the results will greatly influence Santa Maria’s quality of life for the next 10 years.

    “Ultimately, the census count affects every single person in Santa Maria,” Mayor Alice Patino said. “If you count on health care, be counted. If you count on education, be counted. If you count on good roads, be counted. If you count on food assistance, be counted. If you count on public safety, be counted.”

    Currently, the Census Bureau is seeking to hire nearly 1,500 local area census jobs - many in Santa Maria - paying $21 to $23 per hour. You can apply online at 2020census.gov.jobs or call 1-855-JOB-2020. This is an ideal job for students, retirees, or others who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. That hiring and training effort precedes the National Count Day for the census on Wednesday, April 1st . Every person in Santa Maria needs be counted, including babies, children, and college students, where they reside on that day.

    Filling out the census form is easier than every before and can be done online, over the phone, or by a requested paper form. The form itself is only nine questions. It should take 10 minutes to complete.

    “Census data are used to help determine what resources Santa Maria needs,” City Manager Jason Stilwell said. “Each year, tens of billions of Federal dollars are distributed to California state, county, and local governments who then use that money to fund programs and infrastructure and non-profit organizations for health care, housing, education, and transportation.”

    An accurate census count influences Santa Maria’s voice in Congress, and its fair allocation of Federal government resources. For each person counted, about $2,000 in Federal funds will flow into the community, each year. An undercount will hurt Santa Maria. For example, if 1,000 schoolchildren are not counted in Santa Maria (which has more than 10,600 children age five or younger), over the next decade that would be the loss of $20 million into our community.

    In the 2010 Census, the city’s self-response rate was approximately 72 percent, compared to 74 percent for all of Santa Barbara County. This suggests that Santa Maria has already been significantly undercounted, and is at risk of being even further undercounted in 2020.

    “We need to get more than 70 percent of Santa Marians to self-respond to the Census (fill out the form) if we are to have a good chance at a decent population count,” said Mark van de Kamp, Public Information Manager for the City. “Households that do not fill out the questionnaire during the self-response period will be contacted by the U.S. Census Bureau for follow-up.”

    The first numbers from the 2020 census are expected to come out March 31, 2021.

    Questions about the 2020 Census may be directed to Mark van de Kamp at the City of Santa Maria, at (805) 925-0951 extension 2372 or mvandekamp@cityofsantamaria.org. Also, www.SantaBarbaraCountyCensus.org