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Take the Census and Be Counted

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From firefighting to freeways, Medicaid to Meals on Wheels, funding for services that affect older adults is determined by the once-a-decade census scheduled to conclude this fall.

That’s why AARP Michigan is teaming up with government and community leaders to champion “be counted” campaigns, encouraging everyone to complete the nine-question census survey.

“Michigan receives $30 billion a year to support programs where the funding is guided by census count,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, the state’s census director. “We have roughly 10 million residents—that’s $30,000 per person over the decade.”

Public safety, health care, housing and education consume most of the federal funding that is allocated based on census data, including grants for Medicaid and Medicare Part B assistance. Representation in Congress is also determined by the tally.

In mid-March, mailings went to each address in the state. Individuals have until Oct. 31 to respond to the survey online, at my2020census.gov; by phone, at 844-330-2020; or by mail, though the deadline may change due to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s also uncertain when census takers will visit homes of those who haven’t replied.

“Michigan has a very large 50-plus population,” said Brenda Price, associate state director for AARP Michigan. “We need to be counted so the resources come here to help the aging, our veterans and the homeless.”

AARP is especially encouraging members of minority communities, which have been historically undercounted, to take part in the census.

Erinn Harris, Detroit’s deputy census director, said her team enlisted influencers, from rappers to religious leaders, for months to raise awareness in the city.

Another cohort that state officials want to capture is the snowbird population, who winter elsewhere but maintain legal residency in Michigan.

“If they live over 50 percent of their time in Michigan, we want them to be counted here,” said Ebersole Singh.

Census fraud

Beware of scams related to the new telephone and online response options, officials warn.

“If anyone asks for your Social Security number, credit card information, anything like that, it’s a red flag,” said Colleen Tressler, consumer education specialist at the Federal Trade Commission.

“They want your information to commit identity theft or for marketing leads. Be aware of fake emails that purport to be from the Census Bureau—no one should be getting any emails related to the 2020 count.”

You may, however, be contacted by the Census Bureau concerning the COVID-19 Household Pulse Survey, sent via text and email to 13.8 million households to gather data on employment, consumer spending, food security, housing and education disruptions.

Census takers will have valid ID badges with a photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. People who think they’ve been approached by a con artist should call local police, Tressler advised, and should report suspected scams at ftc.gov/complaint or call 877-382-4357.

To confirm the identity of a census worker, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a Census Bureau representative.

Learn more at 2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.

Melissa Preddy is a writer living in Plymouth.

For More on the Census

5 Ways to Avoid Census Scams

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