LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — California has launched a new push to raise public awareness about the upcoming 2020 United States Census, the importance of a complete count and the local economic impact it could have.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was among several government officials who announced the formation of Census Champions — a network of hundreds of state, local and tribal elected officials who are committed to a fair and accurate count — with an emphasis on communities that have been historically hard to count.

“In those hard-to-count communities — whether it is Americans who are living with the scourge of homelessness, whether its immigrant communities or others — we will always let people know one, you are safe and we will defend you,” Garcetti said. “And two, you need and you deserve to be counted.”

The Leadership Conference Education Fund’s Census Counts Campaign and the NALEO Educational Fund will co-lead the Census Champions network.

“State and local elected officials have a critical role to play in getting out the count in their communities,” Jheanelle Wilkins, the director of state and local government affairs for the LCEF, said. “We launched Census Champions to provide resources, information and materials for use by state and local elected officials as they lead and support census efforts in the communities they represent.”

The Los Angeles City Council called on the mayor’s census office in July to outline plans for door-to-door outreach and education efforts in communities that have been historically undercounted in the past.

Having accurate census data is vitally important for cities and states because it determines not only political power, in the form of seats in the House of Representatives, but also for federal funding for things like schools, fire departments and other community services.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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