Census Bureau discusses changes coming in 2020

FLINT TWP. — Flint Township wants to get the word out early about the 2020 Census coming up in April to help improve its chances of receiving federal grant money.

Emily Varney, with the U.S. Census Bureau, told the township Board of Trustees and audience members at Monday’s meeting that the census, which is constitutionally mandated to be performed every 10 years, is essential in determining a community’s representation in Congress and determining how $880 million in federal funding gets distributed to communities for schools, roads and other services.

The 2020 census has been boiled down to only seven questions, which include:

The number of people living or staying in a home on April 1, 2020.

Whether the home is owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent.

A phone number for a person in the home.

The name, age, sex, date of birth and race of each person in the home.

Whether each person is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

The relationship of each person to a central person in the home.

Notable changes for 2020 include write-in areas under the race question for the non- Hispanic origins of those who identify as white and/or black (“German” and “Jamaican” are among the provided examples). There also are new household relationship categories that allow couples living together to identify their relationships as either “same-sex” or “opposite-sex.”

Varney said in an effort to cut down on the need for census workers to go door-to-door, postcards will be mailed out to households in March giving the option to participate in the census via phone or Internet. If households do not respond by phone or Internet, they will be mailed a traditional paper questionnaire, which must be filled out and returned by April 1. If the questionnaire is not returned, census workers will make an in-person visit to those households to gather the necessary information.

Information gathered in the census is confidential and is not shared with any other government agency, including the Internal Revenue Service.

Additional information that used to be included on a longer census form is now gathered every two years through the American Community Survey, which goes out to one in every six households. This information is used by communities in writing grants such as Community Development Block Grants.

Varney pointed out that, based on the response results of the 2000 and 2010 censuses for Flint Township, it is projected that 23.6 percent of the township’s population will not selfreport.

“We’ll try to get that information going door-to-door,” Varney said. “But if we can’t get it, that affects your funding.’

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller also said the township usually receives about $250,000 in grant money each year, the majority of which is used to fix roads.

“Some neighborhoods were left out of that because they didn’t have a good response rate,” she said.

Varney said the census also will provide jobs for people, with about 1 million applicants needed before Dec. 1. Jobs will include going door-to-door, clerical work, IT jobs and more. She said 18 is the minimum age to work for the census, but people can apply if they’re going to be 18 by Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information on applying for census jobs, visit 2020census.gov/jobs.