Make sure you’re counted in the 2020 census – here’s how

March marks the start of the 2020 Census and CCH is committed to supporting a fair and complete count among Illinoisans experiencing homelessness.

The census counts every single person living in the United States. Everyone counts no matter their housing status, income, age, race, or country of origin. The census happens once every 10 years, so it’s critical to get it right.

Whether you are permanently housed or living on the street, in a shelter, or doubled-up with family or friends, you should be counted!

What’s at stake

Counting every person matters because census data impacts access to important programs and resources in your community:

  • Population counts are used to determine how $675 billion in federal funding is distributed.
  • Without an accurate count, Illinois could lose funding for schools, hospitals, roads and important programs like Medicaid, SNAP, and Section 8 housing vouchers.

The census also determines how much representation you have in Congress:

  • Undercounting leads to homeless individuals and families not being fairly represented in policy-making decisions.
  • When you’re not counted, your community is denied a full voice.
How to get counted in 2020

The census runs from March 12 through July 31. When completing the census form, you’ll note where you are living on April 1.

Are you living in a house or apartment or staying doubled-up at the home of a friend or relative?
  • Between March 12 and March 20, every home will receive a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions on how to participate.
  • You can complete the census online, over the phone, or by mail.
  • Every person living in the house should be counted, including family and friends who are residing temporarily or couch surfing.
  • Respond by April 30 to avoid a home visit from a census official.
Are you living in a shelter, on the street, or in a car?
  • Census workers will visit service-based locations (shelters, soup kitchens) to record responses between March 30 and April 1.
  • Non-sheltered outdoor locations such as encampments and underpasses will be counted on April 1.
  • If you are living in a shelter or receive services in the community, talk to staff to confirm when their location will be counted to make sure you’re not missed.
You can still be counted if:
  • You are living doubled-up and were not included on your household’s form for any reason
  • You started staying at a shelter after April 1 and missed the visit from a census worker
  • You are living on the street and a census worker did not find you on April 1

People experiencing homelessness who were not counted through the methods above can still complete a census form online or over the phone. Don’t have access to a computer or phone? Visit your local library and ask a staffer for assistance.

Help us make sure all Illinoisans are counted in the 2020 Census, no matter their housing status:

Questions about the census counting those who are homeless? Contact Gloria Davis, CCH’s Census 2020 Project Manager, or call her at (312) 641-4140.

– Erin Sindewald, Media