LANSING – In Michigan, 64 percent of households have filled out the 2020 census, and the state currently ranks fifth in the nation for responses. But despite these successes, there’s still a lot of work ahead to achieve a complete census count and a lot at stake – Michigan stands to lose millions of dollars in federal support for programs that use census data.
The state’s historically undercounted populations – a group that includes ethnic/minority populations, immigrants, families with young children, senior citizens, those living in poverty, people in rural communities or those who are experiencing homelessness – are at the greatest risk of being undercounted. They rely heavily on census data to receive funding for medical care, food assistance and school programs.
Michigan Nonprofit Association, a non-partisan membership organization that serves the state’s nonprofits, has been leading the Census 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Count campaign to reach historically undercounted populations by encouraging them to fill out the census online, by mail or over the phone. MNA’s statewide campaign provides historically undercounted populations and the community organizations that serve them with resources and information to show why “Everyone Counts. Everyone Wins!” in filling out the census.
“Some of the historically undercounted populations in our state face a number of challenges when it comes to filling out the census,” said Joan Gustafson, external affairs office for MNA. “They might experience language and reading barriers, lack internet access or have other concerns. But their participation in the census is critical so they and others in the state have access to the programs they need.”
Without an accurate census count, Michigan stands to lose millions of dollars in federal support for programs that use census data. Specifically:
-Census data is used by public officials to determine the federal distribution of funds for programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and MIChild; food assistance programs including free and reduced school lunches; education funding for special education, Head Start and Title 1; and funding for roads and bridges.
-An inaccurate census count would result in fewer of our federal tax dollars coming back to Michigan.
-The state also is at risk of losing a Congressional seat in Washington, D.C., which would reduce Michigan’s number of Electoral College votes.
The good news is that it has never been easier to fill out the census and help Michigan receive the funding it needs.
“The census is just nine questions and takes less than 10 minutes to complete,” Gustafson said. “It can be done online, over the phone in the language of your choice or by mail. And all of the information is completely safe and confidential.”
Completing the census online, over the phone or by mail is especially important given social distancing. In-person visits from census field workers have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s important to fill out the census now so Michigan can get an accurate census count and the funding it needs for federal programs and to protect our communities during this pandemic,” she said. For more information on MNA’s campaign, visit MIVoiceCounts.org