The League of California Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman testified on May 22 at a joint informational hearing of the Senate Select Committee on 2020 United States Census and the Assembly Select Committee on the Census. Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Member Marc Berman (D-Pal Alto) chaired the hearing.
Coleman’s testimony focused on why the census is important to California, the return on investment in terms of federal funding and the role that cities will have in ensuring that every Californian is counted.
“The Census population numbers serve as the basis for the distribution of billions in federal dollars to the state and localities each year. A good example is the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG). Cities with at least 50,000 in population and counties over 200,000 receive a direct allocation of these funds annually. For smaller jurisdictions, there is a set aside at the state,” said Coleman.
In 2017, the State and cities and counties received nearly $350,000,000 in CDBG funds, which represents over 10 percent of the total amount appropriated by the federal government for the entire country. The CDBG program is the most flexible form of federal assistance local communities receive and is used to support affordable housing, homelessness prevention, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency initiatives, job training programs and more.
With new housing developments that have been built since the last Census, city participation in this process is critical. Through the Local Update of Census Addresses
(LUCA) program, cities can help make sure the federal government’s address database is current. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a $40.3 million allocation in the FY 2018–19 budget for outreach and other activities related to the 2020 count.
LUCA is the only opportunity for tribal, state and local governments to add, correct or delete addresses on the lists and maps used to conduct the census. An accurate and thorough census count is critical to help the federal government distribute more than $400 billion annually for infrastructure, programs and services and also helps communities plan for the future. Census results have an effect on the state’s congressional representation and will also play a role in redrawing state legislative districts. DOF has additional information
online about LUCA and the upcoming census.
City officials can help educate and raise the awareness by their residents of the importance of the Census and encourage them to respond to the official census questionnaire. Finally, as in the 2010 Census, the League will use its media channels and regional public affairs network to serve as a conduit of information to city officials regarding the Census effort. The League has been pushing out information to our members to help them understand that the LUCA process is underway and what kind of resources are available to them in order to do that.
When asked if nonmember cities will also be informed in how to prepare for the census, Coleman spoke about reaching out to all cities, League members and nonmembers, to make sure they have access to the information they need and provide them contact information on who to reach about questions.
The League has also created a 2020 Census webpage
with additional information for cities.