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Santa Barbara County’s Participation in the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Local Update of Census Addresses” Program

Publication date: 
Friday, January 26, 2018

January 26, 2018


The Honorable Joan Hartman, Chair
Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Barbara
105 East Anapamu Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101


Re: Santa Barbara County’s Participation in the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Local Update of Census Addresses” Program


Dear Supervisor Hartman:

On behalf of Southern California Grantmakers (SCG), we write to urge you to register the County of Santa Barbara as a participant in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) Program for the 2020 Census by January 31, 2018. The Census Bureau has extended the registration deadline for those areas impacted by 2017 natural disasters. Participation in the LUCA Program is critical to ensuring that the County’s diverse communities are accurately counted in the upcoming 2020 Census and the county, as a whole, is best positioned to receive its fair share of political representation and federal funding to address a broad array of economic and social needs. Santa Barbara is the only county in the region that has not signed up for LUCA.

SCG is a regional association of more than 300 foundations, corporate giving programs, philanthropists, and government grantmakers in Southern California working to make a difference in our communities and around the world. As the voice of Southern California philanthropy, we serve as the forum for the exchange of ideas, improve cooperation among foundations, and increase our knowledge of community problems to tackle big issues and achieve shared goals.

The 2020 Census will seek to count nearly 400 million persons – the largest civic engagement effort undertaken by the entire country.  Ensuring a fair and accurate decennial census is fundamental to philanthropy’s long-standing commitment to advancing a democratic society and critical to maximizing the impact of philanthropic dollars throughout the region.  We strongly encourage the County to register and participate in the LUCA Program.


Accurate Census Data are Critical for California

Gathered only once every ten years, accurate census data are key to the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding and reapportionment at the federal, state, and local level.  In 2015, California received almost $77 billion for federal assistance programs, including Medicaid, Medicare, and Title I grants to school districts, based on census data.  Inaccurate census data places California at risk for losing billions of federal dollars targeted at helping to improve the quality of education, health, housing and transportation in our communities.  Additionally, as census data are used to reapportion congressional seats, California is at risk for losing one congressional seat in the event of a 2020 Census undercount.


County Participation in the LUCA Program is Important for an Accurate 2020 Census Count

Registering for the LUCA Program is a first step to ensuring that all California residents are fully and accurately counted in the 2020 Census.  The LUCA Program is an opportunity for tribal, state, and local governments – including counties – to review and update the Census Bureau’s Master Address File (MAF), which is used to reach out to households during census data collection.  The accuracy and completeness of the MAF is critical to the accuracy and completeness of the census.

By participating in LUCA, the County can help ensure that the Census Bureau counts the residents of all housing units in the county.  Local governments are almost always the best source of address data, reflecting their knowledge of “non-traditional” and “low-visibility” housing in their communities.  Local officials are better informed about their housing stock, especially in low-income neighborhoods and rural areas where difficult-to-spot or purposely “hidden” living quarters are more prevalent. Participating in LUCA can help ensure an accurate census for our community, resulting in the additional resources and fair representation our community needs.


Santa Barbara County Should Register for the LUCA Program Immediately

To ensure that all of Santa Barbara County’s residents are counted fully and fairly, we urge you to enroll in the LUCA Program immediately. The deadline to register has been extended to January 31, 2018The Census Bureau sent out formal invitations with registration forms in July 2017 to all eligible governments. Participation can leverage the expertise and relationships of on-the ground organizations like nonprofits to improve accuracy and completeness of the Census count. The process includes local government and community-based-organizations (CBOs) working to select areas to canvas. CBOs activate volunteers as enumerators and collect addresses in targeted areas and submit addresses to local governments for review and submission to Census Bureau for verification.  If your government lacks the resources to participate in LUCA, you can receive financial support from the State of California, which has established an incentive fund to encourage jurisdictions to participate in the LUCA program and help mitigate some of the costs of that participation.  You can also arrange for an organization, such as a regional planning agency or council of governments, to conduct your address review.

You can find more information on California’s LUCA financial support and other resources at following websites:


From congressional representation to education, transportation and voting rights, a fair and accurate Census count will help make our community more prosperous and our democracy stronger.  We strongly encourage you to register Santa Barbara County as a participant in the LUCA Program by January 31, 2018. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Karla Mercado, Manager, Public Policy and Philanthropy California by phone at (213) 680-8730 or email at [email protected]. Thank you for your time and consideration.                                                     

Christine Essel
President and CEO

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