Whitmer launches Census Complete Count Committee in Southfield

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published July 1, 2019

 Whitmer

Whitmer

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SOUTHFIELD — On June 11, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a handful of local leaders gathered at Southfield City Hall to launch the Census Complete Count Committee.

The same day, Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2019-15, establishing a committee to assist in a complete and accurate census count in Michigan.

According to a news release from Whitmer’s office, the federal government uses census data for funding and representation accuracy.

Whitmer said in the release that the U.S. Constitution requires a count of the number of people living in the U.S. territories every 10 years. The census helps determine how many representatives each state will have in the House of Representatives.

When it comes to funding, Michigan receives its funding based on census data, which allocates funding to provide crucial services such as education, food assistance and foster care.

Whitmer said the formation of the committee is a nonpartisan effort.

“This isn’t about party. This isn’t about a particular community. This is about the Michigan community — about every single one of us. Everyone in Michigan counts, and we need to make sure everyone gets counted. This will impact federal funding coming into each community. It will impact what comes into our state, impact our ability to create jobs, provide housing, build schools and to provide an education, as well as, yes, fixing the roads,” Whitmer laughed. “I can tie the roads into anything, and it ties into this.”

The president and CEO of Access, Hassan Jaber, said a lot is riding on an accurate census count.

Access, according to its website, is a Dearborn-based nonprofit focused on community service, cultural and social entrepreneurship, healthy lifestyles, education, and philanthropy.

“We have one opportunity in 2020 to do this right — to do a complete count. There’s so much at stake for us,” Jaber said. “Forty percent of the state budget is federal money that comes to Michigan based on census numbers, and these are really critical programs.”

Jaber said programs like Medicaid, Medicare, food assistance, children’s lunch programs, community health programs and Section 8 housing could all be impacted if residents are not counted correctly.

Donna Murray-Brown, the president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, said there are specific groups that have been historically undercounted.

“Many of those at risk to be undercounted are ones you might not think about: children ages 0-5, people of color, immigrant populations, and those that are impoverished and living in poverty across the state,” Murray-Brown said. “Rural and urban communities are also considered hard-to-reach populations, and many of these populations are ones that deeply appreciate and depend on nonprofits to provide those services.”

Whitmer said all Michiganders have a responsibility to get involved in the effort.

“From Southfield to Flint to the Upper Peninsula, every community will be recognized in this effort, because we can’t call this operation a success unless we have people across our state raising awareness as well,” she said.

The committee, according to the release, will consist of at least 50 members from organizations and communities across the state, including:

• The Michigan Nonprofit Association

• The Council of Michigan Foundations

• The Michigan Association of United Ways

• The Citizens Research Council of Michigan

• The Michigan Muslim Community Council

• The Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity

• The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit

• The Michigan Catholic Conference

• AARP

• The Kids Count Project

• The Michigan Works! Association

• The Disability Network

• The Oceana Hispanic Center

• The Urban Core Collective

• The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Service

• The Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan

• The Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission

• The NAACP

• The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Whitmer will serve as the chairperson of the committee, and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist will serve as the vice chairperson of the committee.

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