GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There’s a new push in West Michigan to get people counted for the 2020 U.S. Census after the bureau announced it would end all counting efforts a month earlier than originally planned.
The new deadline is September 30. Officials said the switch was made to meet its December deadline to turn in all numbers.
“We still have a ways to go to get to where we want to go,” said Grand Rapids Census Coordinator Kathi Harris.
Harris says Grand Rapids census officials have been attending community events, connecting with local organizations, utilizing social media, and hiring ambassadors in addition to its traditional methods to push people to fill out the census online, over the phone, or by mail.
“If you don’t count yourself, your family, those dollars don’t come back to Grand Rapids, they go somewhere else,” said Harris. “We want to keep those dollars.”
The constitutionally mandated count of each resident every 10 years, the U.S. Census helps distribute more than $675 billion per year of federal funding to states and local communities.
“Each person represents about $1,800,” said Harris. “Over a ten year period, that’s $18,000.”
In Grand Rapids that can equate to 5,400 lunches for local students.
Currently, the city’s response rate is 68.7 percent, which is below its 85 percent goal.
In 2010, Harris said Grand Rapids recorded a 75 percent response rate.
However, in six tracts on the city’s southwest side response rates are below 50 percent.
According to the city, the 31 percent of residents who have yet to be counted represent $1.2 billion dollars in funding over the next 10 years.
“Maybe they don’t understand, maybe there’s a language barrier, we want to make sure we cross all those barriers,” said Harris.
Harris encourages people to fill out the nine-question survey, explaining it is quick and only asks basic demographic questions.
No citizenship question is on the census.
“We want to help our community, we want to make it better, we want to make our children better, but we also want to make the roads, the infrastructure, the hospitals,” said Harris.
To fill out the 2020 U.S. Census, click here.