A “census taker” will come to your home unless you self-complete the Census

Photo credit: US Census Bureau

If you live in the U.S., you most likely received several pieces of mail urging you to complete the Census, mandated by the United States Constitution and occurring every 10 years. While the national response rate is 62.9%, here, in New York City, only 54.8% of residents have filled out the Census.

With a new deadline set for September 30, 2020, the City of New York will send “census takers,” to increase the city’s chances of receiving its fair share of the $650 billion in federal funding needed for public education, childcare, hospitals, affordable housing, and more.

Starting August 6, 2020, U.S. Census Bureau enumerators, commonly known as “census takers,” will begin going door-to-door to the homes of New Yorkers who have not yet completed the census. While census takers are well-trained to help all residents complete the census, New Yorkers can avoid a knock at their door by simply going to my2020census.gov and filling out the census in just a few minutes. The census can also be completed over the phone at 1-844-330-2020. Additional phone numbers for direct service are available in 13 languages.

“President Trump’s move to cut the census by a month is a heinous attack on our democracy, and a shameless political ploy to steal the census from Black, Brown, and immigrant communities and to rob us of the money, power, and respect that we are constitutionally guaranteed,” said Amit Singh Bagga, Deputy Director, NYC Census 2020 during a virtual roundtable with the press. “When it comes to how many vaccines, we’ll need for COVID-19, how big our unemployment checks, or even decisions about whether we go to war – if we don’t participate in the census, it’s as if we don’t exist. If we believe that Black Lives Matter; if we believe that immigrant children shouldn’t be ripped from their parents’ arms; if we believe that every new mom and newborn should have health care – we have to not fall prey to Trump’s political trap, and fight back by simply being counted in the census.”

To complete the census, visit my2020census.gov or call:
English: 844-330-2020
Spanish: 844-468-2020
Arabic: 844-416-2020
French: 844-494-2020
Haitian Creole: 844-477-2020
Portuguese: 844-474-2020
Telephone Display Device (TDD): 844-467-2020


Frequently Asked Questions about NRFU (Non-Response Follow-Up Period):

What is Census Non-response Follow-up (NRFU, or “ner-fu”)?
Since mid-March, the public has been completing the census online, by mail, or by phone. Non-response follow-up (NRFU) is when census takers visit all the homes that have not yet completed the census.

When does NRFU begin, and when does it end?
Nonresponse Follow-up will begin as early as August 6, 2020 in New York City. The majority of the operation will begin on August 11, 2020. The Census Bureau’s new deadline for NRFU is September 30, 2020.

How do I know a census taker will keep my information safe?
Census takers will keep your information safe. Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect the confidentiality of your information, under federal law. If they violate Title 13, they face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Are there certain questions census takers aren’t supposed to ask?
Census takers will never ask about:
– Immigration status or a citizenship question
– Your Driver’s License or State ID
– Your Social Security or ITIN Number
– Your bank account or credit card numbers
– Anything on behalf of a political party
– Money or donations
If you think someone approached you and is not a real census taker, please report this to the multilingual New York State Office of New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Is it safe to speak to the census taker if I’m not documented?
This is no problem at all. The census does not ask about your immigration status or any question about citizenship. Your answers cannot be shared with immigration authorities, the police, or any other law enforcement agency, as they are protected by federal law.

What if the census taker does not speak my household’s language?
If the census taker does not speak your language, you can request a return visit from a census taker who does. Census takers will also have materials on hand to help identify the household’s language. For example, you will be able to point to a language on a card that allows the census-taker to determine which language you speak.
Language guides and videos are available online in 59 non-English languages including American Sign Language and braille and large print to assist in completing the 2020 Census at https://2020census.gov/en/languages.html
The Census Questionnaire Assistance centers have staff available to assist in 13 languages at https://2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html

Can I still fill out the census even after NRFU starts?
Yes, during NRFU, you can still self-respond to the census online at My2020Census.gov, by phone at 1-844-330-2020 or by mail. In fact, we encourage all New Yorkers to self-respond NOW. If you respond during NRFU, it is possible you can avoid a knock on your door.

How do I identify a U.S. Census Bureau worker?
If a census taker visits your home, first check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date. If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 212-882-7100 to speak with a Census Bureau representative. You reduce the likelihood of having a census taker visit your home if you self-respond to the census completely and accurately. Follow these links to learn more about census takers and how they can be identified.

What if I do not want a census taker to come to my home?
To reduce the likelihood of a census taker knocking on your door, complete the census online or by phone right away. If you self-respond completely and accurately, it is unlikely that you will get a knock on your door during NRFU.

What if I have concerns about speaking to someone in-person due to COVID-19?
If you do not want to conduct the interview in person, you can provide the census taker with your phone number to complete it over the phone. Remember that all responses to the census are completely confidential and protected by federal law. The census taker and the Census Bureau cannot share your responses with anyone – not immigration; not the police; not your landlord; not even with the City of New York.

How will census takers make sure that they aren’t putting communities at risk of COVID-19?
All census takers complete a COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods. Specifically, census takers are trained to:
– Always wear a mask
– Never enter your home
– Stay 6 feet away when conducting interviews
– Follow healthy hygiene habits, like frequent handwashing
– They will all be given hand sanitizer
– They will stay home from work if they feel sick
– Where do census takers come from?
Census takers are New Yorkers. They are hired from local communities and often serve as census takers in those same communities. Your census taker might live just a few blocks away from you or might even be your neighbor.

How will I know whether a census taker stopped by my home if I am away or at work?
If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail.
You can call 212-882-7100 to verify the employment status of a census taker.

What about basement apartments? How do census takers know how to get through, particularly illegally subdivided units?
Census takers are trained to find all possible housing units at every address. It does not matter whether an apartment is legal or not, who is on the lease, or anything else — all that matters is if people live there.

Will survey responses collected by census takers count towards NYC’s “self-response” rate despite the census takers’ involvement?
Interview responses collected by census takers will count toward NYC’s population count but will not count towards the self-response rate.

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