2020 US Census

The importance of a complete and accurate US Census cannot be overstated. Separate from the Annual City Census, the US Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and the count impacts our most fundamental rights and ability to adequately plan for our collective future.

The Census determines how we will be represented in the US Congress and in the Massachusetts Legislature. It directly affects the allocation of over $880 billion per year in federal assistance for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, social services, transportation, and much more. For Cambridge, it is estimated that over $2,000 in federal funding per resident, per year is allocated based on Census data.

What is the Census?

The Constitution requires a count of the population every ten years to determine the number of seats each State has in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade, which in turn affects the number of Electoral College votes each State receives. For Cambridge, the stakes are high: the allocation of more than $880 billion per year in federal funding for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, social services, transportation and more will flow from the census count.

What's new for 2020?

Historically, the census has relied on mailed paper questionnaires and temporary field staff going door-to-door in neighborhoods and communities to count the population. The 2020 Census is the first time that the census will offer an online response option, although all households will have a choice to participate by phone or using a paper form, as well.

Timeline

March 2020

Census postcards will be mailed to most homes. Letters with information on how to take the survey online as well as reminder letters to non-respondents will also be sent in March.

April 1, 2020

Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.

May 2020

The Census Bureau begins visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to make sure everyone is counted.


Resources

Our mission is to count every resident in Cambridge to secure a fair allocation of government resources and accurate legislative representation.

Census Jobs

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.

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Massachusetts Resources

See what the Commonwealth is doing ahead of the Census.

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US Census Bureau Resources

Access information and resources from the federal government.

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Where You’re Counted Matters

In general, you should count yourself where you live and sleep most of the time, but this guide provides detailed information for different living situations.

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Children/Young Adults

Responding to the 2020 Census is an easy, safe, and important way to help provide resources for children and their communities for the next 10 years.

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College Students

If you live off campus, you’ll need to respond to the 2020 Census. Because unlike your on-campus classmates, you likely haven’t been counted through campus housing.

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Renters

Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone living in the country on April 1, regardless of their nationality or living situation. This includes renters.

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LGBTQ+

On the 2020 Census, you’ll have the option to identify a relationship as same-sex, providing statistics that can inform local planning for families and housing.

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Immigrants/Foreign Born

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States on April 1—no matter where they are from, why they are here in the United States, and whether or not they are documented. This includes temporary workers, international students, and workers on assignment from overseas.

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Cambridge Census Posters

What does the US Census mean for you? Our poster is meant to tell everyone in Cambridge why the Census is important and what it means. This poster is available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Bangla, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese.

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Cambridge Census Logos

You Count, Cambridge! Our logo is meant to tell everyone in Cambridge that they matter and that it’s important that they’re counted in the 2020 US Census. This logo is available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Bangla, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese.

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2020 Census Language Guides

For the 2020 Census, the US Census Bureau will provide languages in 59 non-English languages. These language guides will help respondents complete the 2020 Census. Guides will also be available in braille and large print.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Will the Census ask if I'm a US citizen?

The 2020 US Census will not include any question(s) about citizenship.

Are my answers safe and confidential?

Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics—they cannot be used against you in any way. By law, all responses to U.S. Census Bureau household and business surveys are kept completely confidential.

The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code. This laws not only provides authority for the work we do, but also provides strong protection for the information we collect from individuals and businesses. As a result, the Census Bureau has one of the strongest confidentiality guarantees in the federal government.

It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census or survey information that identifies an individual or business. This is true even for inter-agency communication: the FBI and other government entities do not have the legal right to access this information. In fact, when these protections have been challenged, Title 13's confidentiality guarantee has been upheld.

Is this different than the Annual City Census?

YES. The City of Cambridge is required by state law (MGL Chapter 51 Section 4), to conduct an Annual City Census of all residents 3 years of age and older. The Census form is mailed to every household in Cambridge. This information is necessary to protect your voting rights and to provide better municipal services. Records of residents 17 years of age or older are public information. A street list book is published each year containing the names and addresses of every resident 17 years of age or older, in accordance with M.G.L. ch. 51 § 6, and is available for $55. The street list is also available on CD for $20. The CD is continuously updated.

The US Census happens every 10 years and is used to determine congressional representation and federal funding. Responses to the US Census are kept completely confidential.

Is the Census accessible?

The online questionnaire is accessible, following the latest web accessibility guidelines. There will also be a video in American Sign Language available to guide you through responding online.

You can respond by phone in English or in 12 additional languages. You can also respond in English by TDD at 844-467-2020.

By mid-April, we’ll mail a paper questionnaire to every household that hasn’t already responded. (Some households will receive a paper questionnaire along with the first invitation in March.)

Braille and large print guides will be available online to assist you with completing the paper questionnaire.

If necessary, you can respond in person beginning in mid-May. Census takers will visit all households that have not yet responded and census takers will be available who can communicate in American Sign Language.

When the census taker visits to help you respond, you can request that another census taker who communicates in American Sign Language returns, if you prefer.

More information can be found here.

What will the Census form look like?

Households will be able to respond to the 2020 Census online, over the phone, or through a paper questionnaire. Click here for a sample of the paper questionnaire that will be used during the 2020 Census. This version excludes some features that will be made available to households starting in March 2020, such as the URL for online response and the contact information for phone response.

How are individuals experiencing homelessness counted?

As part of the GQ operation, the Census Bureau has developed special enumeration procedures to count people experiencing homelessness at service locations and pre-identified outdoor locations. The SBE operation is specifically designed to approach people using service facilities because the homeless may be missed during the traditional enumeration of housing units and GQs. These service locations and outdoor locations include the following:
  • Shelters (SH)
  • Soup Kitchens (SK)
  • Regularly Scheduled Mobile Food Vans (RSMFV)
  • Targeted Non-Sheltered Outdoor Locations (TNSOL)

For the 2020 Census, the Service-Based Enumeration operation will be conducted in March 2020. Service providers for SH, SK, and RSMFV will be given the flexibility for their facility to be enumerated on any one of these three days March 30, March 31, or April 1, during the enumeration period. TNSOLs will be enumerated April 1, 2020. The results from the SBE operation do not provide a count of the population experiencing homelessness or a count of the population who use those services at any geographic level. More information is available here.

If I am living here temporarily, what do I do?

When completing the census, you should count yourself and everyone who is living in your household on April 1, 2020.

What information will the census NOT ask for?

The Census Bureau will never ask for:
  • Citizenship status
  • Social Security numbers.
  • Bank or credit card account numbers.
  • Money or donations.
  • Anything on behalf of a political party.

Will this impact me or my family if people are undocumented or wanted by law enforcement?

Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.

No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives.

If I'm here as a student and Cambridge isn't my permanent address, should I fill out the census?

YES! When completing the census, you should count yourself and everyone who is living in your household on April 1, 2020 even if you wouldn't consider it your "permanent address."

Page was posted on 8/27/2019 8:44 AM
Page was last modified on 10/30/2019 9:13 AM

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Events

Dec 5 | 6:00P.M.

US Census Job Fair

Fresh Pond Apartments
364 Rindge Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting positions for the 2020 Census. Census employees will be on hand to help you apply for open positions. Be a Census Taker and make a difference in your community!
Event Details
Dec 11 | 2:00P.M.

US Census Job Fair

Central Square Branch
45 Pearl St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting positions for the 2020 Census. Census employees will be on hand to help you apply for open positions. Be a Census Taker and make a difference in your community!
Event Details
Dec 18 | 3:00P.M.

US Census Job Fair

O'Neill Branch
70 Rindge Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting positions for the 2020 Census. Census employees will be on hand to help you apply for open positions. Be a Census Taker and make a difference in your community!
Event Details

Cambridge Complete Count Committee

  • Dan Riviello, City Manager's Office, Co-Chair
  • Tina Alu, Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee, Co-Chair
  • Hitomi Abe, Community Engagement Team
  • Keitha Crozier, Dept. of Human Service Programs
  • Karim Elrazzaz, Islamic Society of Boston
  • Sarah Gallop, MIT
  • Drew Kane, Community Development Dept.
  • Joy Kim, Cambridge Public Library
  • Maria Melo, Multiservice Center
  • Maura Pensak, City Manager’s Housing Liaison
  • Rosalie Rippey, Cambridge Public Schools
  • Elena Sokolow-Kaufman, Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition
  • Rachel Tanenhaus, Commission for Persons with Disabilities
  • José Wendel, Cambridge Public Health Dept.
  • Ashley Wich, Harvard University
  • TBD, Business Community
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