Census 2020: Census takers will knock at your door if  you have not yet completed the census

U.S. Census Bureau enumerators, commonly known as “census takers,” started going door-to-door to the homes of New Yorkers who have not yet completed the census. While census takers are well trained to help all residents complete the census, New Yorkers can avoid a knock at their door by simply going to my2020census.gov and filling out the census in just a few minutes. The census can also be completed over the phone at 1-844-330-2020. Additional phone numbers for direct service available in 13 languages are included below. We need all New Yorkers to fill out the census now before the new September 30th deadline.

Also included below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about this door-knocking period, also known as Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU). You can also find a video guide from the U.S. Census Bureau about the Non-Response Follow Up period in different languages here. Additional 2020 Census language guides and videos are available online at 2020census.gov/languages in 59 non-English languages including American Sign Language, braille, and large print. 

Yesterday, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and NYC Census 2020 led an emergency public session for community and ethnic media in response to President Trump’s cutting of the door knocking period and the self-response period of the 2020 Census by one month, a move designed to depress responses and rob New York City of billions for critical programs, as well as congressional representation, for the next 10 years.

 We need your help to spread the word about the 2020 Census far and wide to the communities you serve. Participating in the census is safe for all; there are no questions about citizenship or immigration on the census. Your country of origin, background, and immigration status do not matter. Most importantly, census answers are 100% confidential and cannot be used against you. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share your information with anyone – not law enforcement, not immigration, not even one’s landlord. 

We need all New Yorkers to get counted to ensure our communities get our fair share of federal funding for schools, hospitals, housing, and more, in addition to the representation in Congress that we deserve! 

Any community partners who have questions about NRFU (non-response follow-up), can email Mauricio Pazmino at the City’s Census office at mpazmino@census.nyc.gov or call 347-753-0743.


 Frequently Asked Questions about NRFU (Non-Response Follow-Up Period): 

What is Census Non-response Follow-up (NRFU, or “ner-fu”)?

  • 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 visit all the homes that have not yet completed the census. 

When does NRFU begin, and when does it end? 

  • Nonresponse Follow-up will begin as early as August 6, 2020 in New York City.
  • The majority of the operation will begin on August 11, 2020. The Census Bureau’s new deadline for NRFU is September 30, 2020.

Why is NRFU starting so late this year? 

  • Due to COVID-19, the US Census Bureau has been forced to adjust 2020 Census Operations. The start of NRFU was delayed from mid-May to early August.

Can I still fill out the census even after NRFU starts? 

  • Yes, during NRFU, you can still self-respond to the census online at My2020Census.gov, by phone at 1-844-330-2020 or by mail.
  • In fact, we encourage all New Yorkers to self-respond NOW.
  • If you respond during NRFU, it is possible you can avoid a knock on your door.

What if I do not want a census taker to come to my home? 

  • To reduce the likelihood of a census taker knocking on your door, complete the census online or by phone right away.
  • If you self-respond completely and accurately, it is unlikely that you will get a knock on your door during NRFU.
  • My2020census.gov / 844-330-2020

What if I have concerns about speaking to someone in-person due to COVID-19? 

  • If you do not want to conduct the interview in person, you can provide the census taker with your phone number to complete it over the phone.
  • Remember that all responses to the census are completely confidential and protected by federal law.
  • The census taker and the Census Bureau cannot share your responses with anyone – not immigration; not the police; not your landlord; not even with the City of New York. 

How will census takers make sure that they aren’t putting communities at risk of COVID-19? 

  • All census takers complete a COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods. Specifically, census takers are trained to: 
  • Always wear a mask
  • Never enter your home
  • Stay 6 feet away when conducting interviews 
  • Follow healthy hygiene habits, like frequent handwashing
  • They will all be given hand sanitizer 
  • They will stay home from work if they feel sick

What if the census taker does not speak my household’s language? 

  • If the census taker does not speak your language, you can request a return visit from a census taker who does. 
  • Census takers will also have materials on hand to help identify the household’s language.
  • For example, you will be able to point to a language on a card that allows the census-taker to determine which language you speak. 

   Language guides and videos are available online in 59 non-English languages including American Sign Language and braille and large print to assist in completing the 2020 Census. https://2020census.gov/en/languages.html 

    The Census Questionnaire Assistance centers have staff available to assist in 13 languages. https://2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html

How do I identify a U.S. Census Bureau worker? 

  • If a census taker visits your home, first check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.
  • If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 212-882-7100 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.
  • You reduce the likelihood of having a census taker visit your home if you self-respond to the census completely and accurately. 
  • Follow these links to learn more about census takers and how they can be identified.

Are there certain questions census takers aren’t supposed to ask? 

  • Census takers will never ask about
  • Immigration status or a citizenship question
  • Your Driver’s License or State ID 
  • Your Social Security or ITIN Number
  • Your bank account or credit card numbers
  • Anything on behalf of a political party
  • Money or donations.
  • If you think someone approached you and is not a real census taker, please report this to the multilingual New York State Office of New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Is it safe to speak to the census taker if I’m not documented?

  • This is no problem at all. The census does not ask about your immigration status or any question about citizenship. 
  • Your answers cannot be shared with immigration authorities, the police, or any other law enforcement agency, as they are protected by federal law.

How do I know a census taker will keep my information safe? 

  • Census takers will keep your information safe. 
  • Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect the confidentiality of your information, under federal law. 
  • If they violate Title 13, they face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. 

Where do census takers come from? 

  • Census takers are New Yorkers. They are hired from local communities and often serve as census takers in those same communities. Your census taker might live just a few blocks away from you or might even be your neighbor. 

How will I know whether a census taker stopped by my home if I am away or at work? 

  • If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit (see the attached notice for reference, not for wide dissemination) with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail. 
  • You can call 212-882-7100 to verify the employment status of a census taker. 

What about basement apartments? How do census takers know how to get through, particularly illegally subdivided units?

  • Census takers are trained to find all possible housing units at every address. It does not matter whether an apartment is legal or not, who is on the lease, or anything else – all that matters is if people live there. 

Will survey responses collected by census takers count towards NYC’s “self-response” rate despite the census takers’ involvement?

  • Interview responses collected by census takers will count toward NYC’s population count but will not count towards the self-response rate.






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