Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about the census? We've got answers.
The Census is a count of everyone living in the United States. This includes citizens and non-citizens - people of all ages, races and ethnic groups. The first Census was conducted in 1790 and has been carried out every 10 years since then. The U.S. Constitution calls for this regular headcount of everyone living in the United States.
2. How does the census help me?
Your community’s schools, hospitals, housing, transportation, police and other services are affected by the census. Federal, state and local governments as well as businesses base their decisions on Census data. How much money will be available for state aid, what neighborhood needs a school, a health clinic or a bus line, even where to open a new supermarket – these decisions are based on information that comes from the Census.
Unfortunately, thousands of New Yorkers in communities across the state have not been counted in previous census surveys. That means these communities are passed over for public services and resources. The New York State Senate is working with community leaders to make sure everyone in New York is counted in the next census.
3. When is the next census?
The next census takes place in 2010. This coming March, census questionnaires will be mailed to every household in New York. Fill it out, drop in the mail, no postage required, and you’re done.
In April, a second form will be mailed to households that do not return the initial questionnaire. From late April to July, census workers will call or visit households that have not returned a questionnaire.
4. If I have a driver’s license, receive a Social Security check or have registered to vote, does that mean the census will count me?
No. It doesn't matter if you have a driver’s license, receive a Social Security check or are registered to vote. The census only counts people based on the census forms mailed to households. If your home does not return a census form you will not be counted in Census 2010.
5. Will I receive a census form in the mail?
Yes, you should. Census questionnaires will be mailed or delivered to every household address in the United States in March 2010. Households that do not return this form will receive a second form in the mail in April.
6. How can I get a census form if I do not receive one in the mail?
You can pick up a census form at your State Senator’s neighborhood office.
7. Who should fill out the census Questionnaire?
The person who owns or leases the home, or who is primarily responsible for the household, should complete the census questionnaire. Be sure to count all family members and roommates - even people who are temporarily staying with you and who do not have another address. The census does not share this information so no one will know who is staying with you.
No, not necessarily - a census taker will not come to your home if you return the census questionnaire that will be mailed to your household next March. Census takers only visit residences that have not returned a census form. If you do not want a census worker to visit your home, simply return the census form that will be mailed to your house or apartment.
9. What questions are on the census form?
The census form asks basic information about the people who live at the household: name, sex (man or woman), age, birth date, race, how many people are living at the address, their relationship to you, do you rent or own the home where you live, and your phone number if the census doesn’t understand an answer.
If you have someone staying with you because they have lost a job or their home, please count them on your form when you fill it out for your residence.
The census is required by law protect the confidentiality of your personal information. It does not share this information with any government agency, non-profit group, or private company, so no one will know your name, who is staying with you, whether or not you are a citizen, or any personal details about your life.
11. Will the information I give the census be shared with immigration, welfare, law enforcement or other authorities?
No, absolutely not. The law prevents the census from sharing your personal information with law enforcement, immigration, welfare or any government agency. It doesn’t matter if you are not a citizen, or if the landlord doesn’t know about someone staying with you– the census cannot and will not share your information.
12. How is the 2010 census different from previous census surveys?
The Census 2010 questionnaire has only 10 questions, and takes about 10 minutes to fill out. Census forms will be available in more languages than previous census surveys. And for the first time, households in some neighborhoods will be mailed a census form in Spanish.
13. How are census data used?
Government agencies from the federal to the local level rely on census data to allocate taxpayer dollars to fund schools, roads, public transportation, housing, senior citizen programs and other services. Private businesses use census data to guide their decision making, too. census data are also used to determine representation in the state legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives.
14. What if I need help filling out the census form?
Questionnaire Assistance Centers will be open in March and April of 2010 to help you if you cannot read or understand the form. Easy-to-read large-type forms are also available, and a TDD program is available for the hearing impaired.
There are guides for the form in multiple languages, and local Questionnaire Assistant Centers in your neighborhood may have census employees who speak your language.
15. How can I find a Questionnaire Assistance Center near me?
The Questionnaire Assistance Centers will be open in March 2010. At that time, this web site will list a phone number you will be able to call to find a location near you.
16. What other languages will census forms be available in?
Questionnaires will be available from the Census Bureau in Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian, as well as English.
17. How are people counted if they live away at college, or do not have a permanent address?
Census employees will count people who are living in college dorms, military barracks, nursing homes, homeless shelters or who are incarcerated. If you have someone staying with you because they have lost a job or lost their home, please count them on your form when you fill it out.
18. How can I get my neighbors to send back their census forms?
Community groups and neighborhood leaders are forming Complete Count Committees to encourage people in their community to return their census questionnaires and be counted.
Many communities have not been accurately counted in previous census surveys, and Complete Count Committees are working to correct this.