Township hopes for better response to 2020 Census

FLINT TWP. — Flint Township had a loss of 1,762 people from the 2000 census that counted 33,691 people to the 2010 census that counted 31,929 people.

That can be deceiving, as Emily Varney of the U.S. Census Bureau said at a recent Flint Township Board of Supervisors meeting that based on results of the 2000 and 2010 censuses, 23.6 percent of the township’s population will not self-report. Those non-responses cut into the federal dollars the township receives in grant money.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said the township usually gets about $250,000 in grant money each year, most of which is used to fix roads. She’s hoping the response rate is better for the 2020 census.

“I couldn’t begin to speculate as to why people choose not to respond to the census request,” she said. “We have been working with the regional area director of the U.S. Census Bureau to assist her reach-out to different sectors of our residents.”

Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk said she is taking a special interest in making sure babies and children are included in the township’s count for 2020.

“I am going to encourage people to take part in the census as it can now be completed on the Internet,” Funk said. “Also, I will be making a big push to include babies and children as they are often the overlooked citizens in a census. Just as every vote counts, every resident needs to be counted.”

Historically, children under the age of 5 has been one of the most undercounted groups in decennial censuses and in Census Bureau Surveys. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, children are undercounted across geography and demographics, making this a bigger problem for some racial and ethnic groups and some parts of the country. This problem is not unique to the United States or the Census Bureau. Other national surveys and other countries also have a high undercount of children.

According to the Census Bureau, Genesee County is one of the five counties in Michigan most at risk of under-counting young children. More than half (55 percent) of the county’s children under 5 live in “complex families”; 30 percent of households live in rental units; 27.5 percent of the population is nonwhite; and 2.6 percent is foreign born.

Complex families are defined as those where children don’t live with two biological parents — and have a young single mother with unstable housing, live with extended family or in a household headed by a non-related adult. These families and the percentage of families who live in rental housing tend to move around a lot, making them more difficult to count. Minorities are more likely to be undercounted because they are more likely to be renters or in unstable housing situations. They also tend to be more hesitant to fill out the census questionnaire.