This month, households across the nation will begin receiving “invitations to participate” in the 2020 Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau will mail detailed information on how to respond to the population count questionnaire — either online, by phone, or by mail.

For the next 10 years, the information collected will be used to determine community funding, congressional and legislative representation, among other issues.

With so much at stake, residents are required by law to respond. Those who fail to return the official questionnaire can expect a visit from a census taker between May and July.

Every 10 years since 1790, the U.S. Census Bureau has conducted a count of every person in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. Territories that include Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This year, for the 24th time, every man, woman, and child will again be counted as is required by the U.S. Constitution.

The population count will drive billions of dollars in federal funding over the coming decade to support roads, health care, education, disaster relief, among numerous other programs.

Census results can shape the future of communities with the collected data used to determine which communities will receive federal funding for such services as health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives, and other assistance programs.

Additionally, the count determines the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and is used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

While residents are required to participate in the count, U.S. Census Bureau employees are also required by law to protect the information they collect.

Responses are used only to produce statistics and personal information is never disclosed, according to a spokesperson.

April 1 will be observed across the nation as Census Day. This will be the key reference date for the census. When completing the census questionnaire, respondents will include everyone living in his/her home as well as where he/she lives on April 1, 2020.

By December, the Census Bureau will deliver apportionment counts to the President and the U.S. Congress as required by law.

By March 31, 2021, the Census Bureau will have sent redistricting counts to states and the information will be used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.

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