It's time for the 2020 Census! Filling out the Census only takes 10 minutes per person and this time, you can do it online! Starting March 12, invitations will begin to be delivered and once received, you can click here to fill out your Census!
Houston Public Library is proud to be a part of the City of Houston and Harris County Complete Count Committee, and to partner with the U.S. Census Bureau, Houston in Action (HiA), and HiA’s network partners:
Check out the 2020 Census website for more information.
What is the U.S. Census?
How Do I Respond to the 2020 Census?
Why Should I Care About the Census?
What Questions Will Be on the Census?
What If I Don’t Want to Answer all the Questions?
I’m Worried that my Answers will be Shared
I Think I have already Responded
Identifying a Scam
Who to Contact?
The Census is a count of every person living in the United States. It takes place every 10 years and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Census Bureau is the agency that conducts the count. Everyone is required to participate, no matter their age, race, ethnicity, or immigration status.
Want to check out past Census data? Check out our online resources! Note that you will need a Houston Public Library MY Link card to access these resources outside of any Houston Public Library location. Don’t have a MY Link card yet? Apply for one here.
You can respond to the Census in one of three ways:
- On the phone: For the first time, 1-800 numbers will be available to give responses over the phone.
- In writing: A paper form will be mailed to each household.
- Online: For the first time in history, there will be the option to fill out the Census online.
Mid-March 2020: Mailings begin
- Option to respond online, by phone, or by mail
- Several reminders through March & April
- April 1: National Census Day
- If you still haven't responded, a reminder letter and a paper questionnaire will be sent between April 8-16.
- A final reminder is sent between April 20-27 before a Census employee comes out to visit in person.
May 2020: Household visits begin to non-respondents
July 31: Self response closes
The Census plays a major role in determining the distribution of federal funds as well as the size of our Texas congressional delegation. The 10 largest census-guided programs distributed nearly $44 billion to Texas in 2016.
Census data is used to determine funds for schools, roads, healthcare, school lunches, housing, and other public services in local communities. The demographic data are used by businesses to determine, for example, where to build new supermarkets, and by emergency responders to locate injured people after natural disasters.
The Census questions are very generic demographic questions about you and the other people who live with you. These questions include name, age, origin of birth, race, gender, the relationship of the people living in the same place (spouse, son/daughter, renter, etc.), and whether the home is owned or rented. There will be other operational questions as well, such as whether someone usually lives or stays somewhere else, how many people were living at the residence on April 1, 2020, telephone number, and if there was anyone else living in the residence on April 1 that do not currently live there (if the census is taken after April 1, 2020).
For a look at the questions that will be asked, check out the Sample Census Questionnaire.
You can skip questions, submit an incomplete census form, and still be included in the head count. Returning a partially filled-out questionnaire may result in a follow-up phone call or visit from a census worker.
Census responses are protected under Title 13 of the United States Code. The Census Bureau collects information to produce statistics. Private information is never published. Personal information cannot be used against respondents by any government agency or court.
Anyone who violates this law will face severe penalties, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
The Census 2020 season is from March – July 2020. Your Census 2020 questionnaire should be submitted during this time period.
As of July 2019, you may have received the 2019 Census Test – a trial run for the 2020 Census (which won’t start until early January 2020). The 2019 Census Test will randomly assign households to two panels and ask them to respond to the 2020 Census questions.
You could also have been randomly selected for a Census survey. It is important to verify that the survey is legitimate, because there have been reports of scams.
If you receive mail about the Census:
- Check that the return address is Jeffersonville, Indiana.
- If you continue to question the authenticity of the letter or form call the Regional Office for your state to verify the household survey. For business surveys please visit the Census Bureau Business Help Site or contact the National Processing Center.
If someone calls your household to complete a survey:
- Call the National Processing Center to verify the caller is a Census Bureau employee.
- Please review the Census Bureau’s alphabetical list of All Surveys.
If someone visits your residence to complete a survey:
- Check first for a valid U.S. Census Bureau ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
- If you are still unsure then call the Regional Office for your state to verify you are in a legitimate survey and the visitor is a Census Bureau employee. Click here for tips on identifying a Census employee.
If you get an email and think it is bogus:
- Do not reply, do not click on any links, and do not open any attachments.
- Forward the email or website URL to the Census Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Delete the message. The Census Bureau will investigate and notify you of the findings.
Texas residents contact:
Denver Regional Office
TDD: (303) 969-6767
LANGUAGE LINE TOLL-FREE NUMBERS
Chinese (Cantonese): 844-398-2020
Chinese (Mandarin): 844-391-2020
English (Puerto Rico residents): 844-418-2020
Haitian Creole: 844-477-2020
Spanish (Puerto Rico residents): 844-426-2020
Telephone Display Device (TDD): 844-467-2020
Link to census phone numbers