Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

NYC Census 2020 FAQ

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What is the Census?

The census is the count of every person in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau. Mandated in the Constitution under Article I, Section 2, it has taken place every 10 years since 1790. The census is critical for determining each state's representation in Congress and the distribution of more than $650 billion in federal funding for vital programs like public education, affordable housing, roads and bridges, and much more.

In 2020 the census will be available online and by phone for the first time. Information about completing the census will be mailed to every household in the U.S. by mid-March of 2020. Next year, the U.S. Census Bureau expects 80% of households to complete the census online, and the remaining 20% to complete it using more traditional methods.

How Does the Census Work?

In 2020, the census will be conducted between mid-March and the end of July. This period is divided into two phases: the "self-response-only" phase and the "non-response follow-up" phase.

By mid-March of 2020, every household in the United States will receive a letter from the Census Bureau with information about how to fill out the census online. During the self-response-only period, the census will be available online and by phone for the first time in history. At the end of the self-response-only phase the Census Bureau will send paper forms to households which have not responded online.

In approximately mid-May, the Census Bureau will begin to send enumerators, or "door-knockers", to conduct non-response follow-ups for households that have still not completed the census. If no one answers the door after several attempts, the enumerators will either use administrative records or proxies to try to determine the information for that household.

These estimates by enumerators are often inaccurate and can leave many New Yorkers out of the count, impacting our fair share of $650 billion in federal funding for vital programs and our representation in Congress. That is why it is imperative that we achieve a complete and accurate count next year.

For more information, please visit the 2020 Census website.

Why Does the Census Matter?

The upcoming 2020 Census is critical for the future of New York City.

The census determines how critical resources and political power are distributed.

As New Yorkers, our fair share of billions of dollars in federal funding is at stake. This includes funding for our public education, affordable housing, roads and bridges, and much more.

And, if we are undercounted, we could lose up to two seats in Congress, diminishing the power of our voices on Capitol Hill.

NYC Census 2020 is working to ensure that every New Yorker is counted.

In 2010, the self-response rate in New York was 62%, while the national average was 76%.

In some neighborhoods, self-response rates were as low as 35%. This means New York City has historically been undercounted—we can't let that happen again.

It is critical that every New Yorker is counted: if we're not counted, we don't exist!

How Can I Help?

Join your Neighborhood Organizing Census Committee (NOCC)!

Help us get out the count!

NOCCs are groups of volunteers from 245 neighborhoods across all five boroughs who work together to organize and mobilize their communities to participate in the census.

Volunteers, captains, and NOCC leaders will be working together to ensure their neighborhood is counted in the 2020 Census through community outreach, canvassing, phone banking, and texting.

Sign up here to join your NOCC!

What is NYC Census 2020?

NYC Census 2020 is a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative established by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. NYC Census 2020's program is built on four pillars:

  • The New York City Complete Count Fund.
  • An in-house "Get Out the Count" field campaign.
  • Innovative, multi-lingual, tailored messaging and marketing.
  • An in-depth and multi-layered City agency engagement strategy that ensures that all City agencies and institutions, including their clients or constituents, employees, and infrastructure, are utilized to promote census participation.

NYC Census 2020 is led by Director Julie Menin, an attorney by training, who has previously served as Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment, as well as the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly known as the Department of Consumer Affairs).

What is NRFU?

Since mid-March, the public has been completing the census online, by mail, or by phone. Non-response follow-up (NRFU) is when census takers conduct in-person visits to collect census information from households that have not yet completed the census. The NRFU period began on August 6 and will continue through September 30, 2020. Although cCensus takers have already begun knocking on doors, you can still self-respond to the census online at, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail.

Have more questions about NRFU? Check out the full NRFU FAQ in many languages
Have questions regarding building access for census enumerators? View the official NRFU Building Access Letters