TRAVERSE CITY — A compilation of leaders is forming the 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.
Grand Traverse County is heading up the effort, said county Administrator Nate Alger.
All the representatives from governmental entities — townships, villages and Traverse City — are accounted for, but they still are seeking leaders from community organizations, he said.
“We’re trying to identify people that have influence in the community and have access to people that might be resistant or difficult to count,” said Alger, who is heading general outreach for the CCC. Such groups might include those who are homeless, migrant workers or live in rural areas, he said.
The census is taken every 10 years — next year’s will be the 24th — and counts everyone residing in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas of the U.S. The census constitutionally is required and the data used in multiple ways.
Data is reported only in statistical format as individual census records are, by law, confidential for 72 years.
What’s at stake includes seats in the U.S. House of Representatives — Michigan has lost five seats in the last four censuses; distribution of about $675 billion per year of federal funds for programs such as Medicaid, highway construction and planning, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — Bridge Cards — and Head Start; and the boundaries of legislative districts from the federal level down to the local level.
“Whether or not you are counted in the census, if you’re here, you’re going to be using our resources,” said Alger. “So it’s important to get an accurate count of the people living here so we can serve them.”
About $1,800 of federal funds per year could be lost for every person not counted, according to the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s website.
If a government is unable to provide certain services, that burden often falls to nonprofits, it states.
The county is working with Networks Northwest — which in turn has partnered with MNA — to help engage local nonprofits in the CCC and to support their own census-awareness efforts.
Networks Northwest, through the Be Counted Michigan 2020 campaign, has $100,000 in grant money to award to eligible nonprofits conducting outreach activities in hard-to-count populations, said Heather Bowden, community planner for Networks Northwest.
“Whether it be community events, door-to-door educational blitzes, we’ll really be strategizing over the next few months to develop the correct strategies for the correct populations,” Bowden said.
Organizations in Grand Traverse, Antrim, Benzie, Leelanau, Kalkaska, Charlevoix, Emmet, Manistee, Missaukee and Wexford counties are eligible.
If interested in taking part in the Complete Count Committee, email email@example.com or call 231-922-4780. For questions about the grant, contact Bowden at firstname.lastname@example.org.