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Boston Counts 2020

Boston Counts 2020 is the City’s effort to support an equitable and complete count in the next U.S. Census.

We will work to ensure every resident in Boston is counted, because every resident in Boston counts. We'll continue to add more information to this page about the census as we receive it.

Please note:

Common questions

Common questions

The Census is a constitutionally required nationwide survey. It's conducted every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau to count the population of the United States. The data collected by the Census:

  • determines the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and influence in the Electoral College
  • informs redistricting, defining congressional districts, state legislative districts, and local city council districts for the next 10 years, and
  • directs more than $675 billion in federal funding to states and cities.

Much of the funding that comes from the Census count helps the most vulnerable among us. It provides health care, education, food and nutrition programs, housing, and child care for low-income families:

  • In Fiscal Year 2015, Massachusetts received $16 billion for programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, Section 8 Vouchers, Title 1 Education Grants, and Head Start.
  • For every resident who is not counted in the state, $2,372 in funding is missed.

The Census has a big impact on the services Boston and its neighborhoods receive. This is why we need an equitable and complete count.

Everyone should be counted. Regardless of immigration status, housing security, age, race, or ability, you count equally in our democracy. We need to make sure you get counted.

In mid-March 2020, you will receive an invitation to participate from the Census Bureau with instructions on how to fill out your form. If you did not receive or misplace your invitation you can respond to the Census online or by phone. You can do so in 13 different languages.

Don't know, misplaced, or never received your census ID? We created a guide that will explain how you can still respond without it.  

The place where you live and sleep most of the time, on or around Census Day, which is April 1, 2020.

All Census data is protected by federal law.  It is a crime for your personal responses to be shared outside the Census Bureau and they cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

Boston’s communities will not be accurately counted for the next ten years. This means our city will not receive its fair share of federal funding and representation needed to build an even better Boston during the next ten years.

"Hard to Count" tracts are defined as tracts with 2010 mail return rates of 73% or less. That puts them in the bottom 20 percent of return rates nationwide.

Boston has the largest total number of people in Massachusetts living in Hard to Count tracts. Nearly 415,000, or 63% people, were Hard to Count in 2014.

Hard to Count populations include:
  • People living in “group quarters” (for example, college dorms, residential treatment centers, nursing homes)
  • Renters or those who move frequently
  • Recent immigrants
  • Populations that speak little or no English
  • Children under age 5
  • People with lower incomes or lower educational attainment

Fill out the Census today! Make sure to include everyone in your household on one single form.  You can do it online or over the phone in 13 different languages.

For more information, contact Sebastian Zapata at Sebastian.Zapata@boston.gov or call 617-635-4478.

Our population is ever-changing and especially hard to count. Boston depends on everyone to participate and be counted so that the Census accurately reflects the diverse populations that call our City home.