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 Residents pose for a photo in front of the Southfield Public Library in 2016. City officials are urging residents to partake in the 2020 census.

Residents pose for a photo in front of the Southfield Public Library in 2016. City officials are urging residents to partake in the 2020 census.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Southfield officials urge residents to take 2020 census, volunteers needed

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 12, 2020


SOUTHFIELD — City officials want to make sure everyone in Southfield is counted for the 2020 census.

Starting in March, residents will start to receive invitations in the mail to complete the census. The mailing will include all of the information needed to respond to the census either online, by phone or in the mail no later than April 1.

According to an update posted on the city’s website, the U.S. census is mandated by the Constitution to count the populations of states and territories every 10 years. The 2020 census marks the 22nd U.S. census.

“I have a list of 50 ways census data is used,” Mayor Ken Siver said. “The most obvious is government legislative districts. … The data counts are important because, every year, the federal government distributes about $700 billion in federal funds, and if we’re undercounted, then the less revenue sharing that we get.”

The numbers are also used for grants that support state and federal road dollars, Medicare, and forecasting, Siver said.

“Everything from hospital beds to housing units to transportation routes,” Siver said. “The money also goes to social services, to attendance boundaries for schools. Typically, when I apply for a grant, they’re asking for the demographic information. They want to know the diversity of the people that will be served by the grant if it’s successful.”

Medicaid alone counts for 58% of census-guided funding, according to material from the city. Funding or more than 100 programs will be determined by the census, including Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“It’s really used in all kinds of planning aspects, but I think that one of the things I keep stressing with people is that whatever the count is, we’re stuck with those numbers for 10 years, and over a 10-year period of revenue sharing, it equates to millions of dollars,” Siver said. “So it’s got an impact on us for years to come.”

Historically, Siver said, there are groups of people that have been undercounted, sometimes out of fear that their information will be shared with other groups.

“Census data is kept in total confidence for 70 years. It’s not shared with the IRS, the police, the FBI or ICE, so people should not worry about their responses being made public. The last census that was released was from 1940.”

According to information from the city, in 2010, the census missed about 2.1% of black people and 1.5% of Hispanic people nationally, which accounted for around 1.5 million people.

Southfield recently formed the Complete Count Committee, which is made up of many different people throughout the community. Siver said the group is in a “fan out” stage, where different subcommittees tackle various areas of the city, such as senior adult communities, religious communities, educational institutions, civil organizations and more.

Siver said city officials are also looking for assistance with the subcommittees.

“The apartment communities, for instance — we need the names of the managers and the contact information. We’re looking for people to go out and make an appointment to see the apartment community, and we’re asking them to put up posters to announce the census.”

Interested volunteers can contact Siver’s office at (248) 796-5100.

“I do hope all of us will partake, because it’s so important,” Councilwoman Linnie Taylor said. “I’m going to keep reminding us to participate in that.”