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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

1. Does the census count everyone living in a multigenerational household?

Yes.Count everyone, from grandpa to the new baby’.

Every resident in your multigenerational household must be included on the census form – that includes family, cousins, grandparents and other elderly relatives, young children, foster children, roommates and nonrelatives who are living with you – everyone in your household gets counted.

Research shows that racial minorities like South Asians and foreign-born householders tend to live in multigenerational households that typically include children, grandparents and other relatives.

The Census wants to count every person living in your home to make sure your community and others across the nation are accurately funded and represented for the next decade.

The big picture is that there are so many diverse communities in the nation and the Census must make sure the record reflects that.

2. Does the census count seniors who rotate between children living in different states, because they share eldercare for their parents?

Yes.  Senior parents should only be counted once in the place they live for six months or more in the US during the year.

If your senior parents split time between family in different states, they should be counted in the place where they reside for most of the year. That includes Greencard holder parents who split their time in six month segments between India and the US .

If your senior parents live in the US for less than 6 months of the year, then they should not be counted on your census form

Six months is the magic number for figuring out whether and where someone should be counted.

3. Does having a Driver’s License and Passport mean that you do not have to fill out a Census form?

No. It does not matter if you have a driver’s license, a passport, receive a Social Security check or are registered to vote.  That information is not automatically added to the census count.

You are required by law to fill out the census form that has nine specific questions which collect demographic data on each household to get an accurate snapshot of the population in a community.

Census 2020 only counts people who respond to the census forms by mail, online, by phone or who are counted by an enumerator.

Even if you have participated in other surveys like the American Community Survey, you are still required to respond to the 2020 Census.

4. If I rent out part of my home, who is responsible for completing the census form – Landlord or Renter?

In separate households under one roof, with parts (for eg. in -law units) rented out to other people, it depends on whether more than one address is associated with the property.

If the property is registered with one address, then the landlord is responsible for including all residents on the census form

If the boarder or renter lives with you and the other members of your household, you should include them on your questionnaire.

If the rented portion of your home has a separate address, the boarder or renter should complete their own census questionnaire and include everyone who lives at that address.

5. Who is responsible for completing the census forms in multi-unit households such as apartments or senior living facilities?

Group Quarters
Senior living facilities belong to a category of communal residences that the Census calls Group Quarters. It has a specific process for counting the people who stay in such group living arrangements . Usually these are places are owned or managed by an entity or organization that provides residents with housing and/or services. Group quarters include but are not limited to  senior living facilities, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, college residence halls and military barracks.

Group administrators identified by the census  are responsible for counting residents who live in group quarters.

Apartments/Multiple Unit Housing/Usual Residence
If you live in an  apartment building with multiple households that each gets separate mail, you are responsible for completing the census for your  own household unit.

If, however, the post does not deliver to multiple units or you live in a dense housing situation like a fraternity or a workers dormitory that fits the concept of ‘usual residence’, (where you live and sleep most of the time), then you have to coordinate with your roommates and respond to the census based on the address where you were living or staying on April 1, 2020.

6. Do you count Children in the Census?

College Students
Though college students are coming home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the  Census Bureau wants  students to be counted at their ‘usual residence’ – on-campus or off-campus college address, even if they  are living temporarily with  their parents’ or guardians’ home on Census Day (April 1, 2020, due to a  break, vacation, or due to COVID-19 closures.

Colleges and universities are responsible for sending the Census Bureau a complete count of students. If you counted your college age child on your form, you will receive a follow up query from the Census to make sure your child has not  been counted twice – at home and at college!

 Under 5 and Other Children in your Household
Yes. All children must be counted in the census form.  That includes babies and children under 5,  and the children of roommates, housemates, roomers, and tenants. Parents and guardians should count children at their ‘usual residence’ which is  the address where they live and sleep most of the time, even if their parent does not live and sleep at the same address. If you are not sure, count the child at the address of the place where the child was staying on April 1, 2020.

In a complicated situation such a joint custody between two households and if a child spends an equal amount of time in two or more homes, count the child where they were staying on April 1, 2020.

7. Why is this important

By responding to the census you help shape the future for your family and community. More than $675 billion in federal funding for important public services is at stake.  First responders, school meals, Medicare and Medicaid, food assistance programs, libraries and community centers – all depend on this money.

It also means fair political representation for your community – data collected on the census determines how many congressional seats each state gets in Congress and how district boundaries are drawn. The electoral system should reflect your community

Responding to the census is your chance to make sure you’re getting your fair share for your family and your community.

Coverage for Census 2020 has been facilitated through a grant from the United Way Bay Area.

Photo by Ram on Unsplash

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Meera Kymal

Meera Kymal is the Managing Editor at India Currents and Founder/Producer at She produces multi-platform content on the South Asian diaspora through the lens of social justice,...