About the Survey

California Neighborhoods Count will center around creating an inventory of housing units in a selection of 174 neighborhoods across the state.

Workers from RAND and its partners will walk neighborhoods and knock on doors in many areas of the state where participation in the census has historically been low. About 20,000 housing units are expected to be cataloged and surveyed as a part of the study. Residents of these neighborhoods will be given the opportunity to answer the survey by telephone, paper, the internet, or an in-person interview. The survey will be administered in English and seven non-English languages.

“California state government is undertaking its largest-ever effort to support the U.S. Census Bureau in an effort to get a full count of the state’s residents,” said Robert Bozick, a RAND demographer who will head the effort. “Our project is intended to help the state determine whether its investment has paid off in a more-accurate count of the state’s vast and diverse population.”

California has higher proportions of hard-to-count populations, which can make a complete count more challenging. These populations include large numbers of renters, non-English-speaking residents and a large homeless population. Regions affected include both dense urban neighborhoods and sparsely populated rural areas.

State lawmakers have committed more than $187 million to California Complete Count—Census 2020, a statewide outreach and awareness campaign aimed at ensuring an accurate, complete count of all California residents. In addition to measuring the success of California Complete Count, the RAND project also is intended to help state officials evaluate efforts to improve state demographic estimates by collecting small-area population and housing unit counts.

Study Timeline

California Neighborhoods Count will be undertaken in three phases.

Phase I: January-February 2020

Visit 172 neighborhoods to identify all existing housing units in those neighborhoods.

Phase II: May-August 2020

Administer the survey to a resident at each housing unit.

Phase III: September-October 2020

Follow-up with housing units that were not able to be contacted during Phase II.

Following data collection in 2020, RAND and UCLA will analyze the data and compare results from California Neighborhoods Count with official statistics from the 2020 Census. A report summarizing the findings will be made available in the fall of 2021.

Study Sponsor

California Neighborhoods Counts is sponsored by the California Department of Finance and the California Government Operations Agency, which oversees California Complete Count. For more information contact Regina Shih or California Department of Finance, Demographic Research Unit.

State of California Letter of Endorsement [PDF] RAND Corporation Will Lead Effort to Measure Success of California Census Participation Effort