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Flint leaders ramp up 2020 US Census campaign

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor admits his city should have started preparing for this year’s censusa year ago. But he says the city is trying to catch up.

The nation’s once-a-decade census will take place this year. The 2020 census is used to calculate federal spending and political boundaries. 

The first census takers started making their rounds in remote parts of Alaska earlier this month. But for the rest of the country, the2020 censuswon’t really begin until March.

That doesn’t give Flint’s civic leaders much time to convince reluctant city residents to agree to take part. 

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates about 79% of Flint residents took part in the 2010 census. This year, the agency predicts only about 74% will fill out their census forms.

Mayor Sheldon Neeley says the campaign kicked off this month will try to convince Flint residents to trust their census data will be confidential.

“It’s not about if you have an outstanding warrant….it’s not about if you owe a little bit on your child support. It’s not about those things,” Neeley says. “But it’s more importantly about making sure that we get what is owed to this city and this community.”

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates each person counted equates to roughly $1,800 in annual federal spending. Federal spending on Head Start, Medicaid, school lunch and other programs is tied to the data collected in the census. 

“If we don’t do a good job in counting residents inside the city of Flint, we all lose,” says Neeley.

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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