DETROIT — The extent to which Detroit can quickly recover from the novel coronavirus pandemic directly depends on how many Detroiters fill out their 2020 census form, Mayor Mike Duggan said.
As of today, Detroit's overall census response rate is less than 50 percent, which could cost the city billions of dollars in federal funding over the next 10 years and could greatly impact the city's ability to provide many vital services and programs on which residents depend. To increase census participation in more communities, the city will host a drive-by Census kick-off event, this Saturday, May 30, starting at 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Martin Luther King High School located at 3200 E. Lafayette Blvd.
Volunteers will drive up to receive census materials such as kicker-cards, yard signs, census T-shirts, census tote bags, a free mask, bottle of hand sanitizer and other freebies to spread the overall message, "Be Counted Detroit!" There will also be assistance available for individuals who need additional support completing their census online.
"The 2020 census is a once-in-a-decade opportunity where Detroiters get to tell the federal government how much money it will send to support the people of our city," Mayor Duggan said. "It's a simple formula – for each person who fills their census form, Detroit gets more money for many of its most important programs. If we don't fill out our form, Detroit's money will go to other cities to support their residents."
Census in the age of COVID-19
Detroit census counts are being greatly impacted by COVID-19. Nearly half of Detroiters complete their census by mail, and that number has dropped severely during this pandemic. Additionally, more than 90 census kick-off events, door-to-door canvassing and other in-person promotions were canceled due to COVID-19.
"While COVID-19 has consumed everyone's attention today, Detroiters can't forget to do the single most important thing that determines it's future, Duggan added."
Detroit Census Neighborhood Competition
To spark urgency amongst communities and neighborhoods, the city of Detroit has introduced the "Detroit Neighborhood Census Challenge," a competition between neighborhoods in each district throughout Detroit, showcasing the highest census return rate within neighborhoods.
Leading the competition is the Sherwood Forest Neighborhood, on the city's west side in District 2, with an 83.8. percent census response rate. Coming in at a close second is the North Rosedale Park Neighborhood, in District 1, with a 75.4 percent response rate. Neighborhoods and communities can visit detroitmi.gov/census to view their neighborhood response rate in real-time.
The city will continue to announce winners of the challenge on its social channels, billboards,and digital advertisements. Competitions are being led by community leaders, block clubs and city influencers to promote and engage their neighbors to take 10 minutes to complete the census and increase their neighborhood's response rate to get Detroiters counted and involved. Neighborhood leaders like Dulce Maria Flores, from the Michigan-Martin neighborhood in Southwest Detroit, and Sandra Turner, from the Moross-Morang neighborhood on the east side, answered the call to lead their communities and spread awareness about the importance of the census.
"In our neighborhood of Michigan-Martin, we have been calling our neighbors directly about the Census and talking to them on the street, pulling out our tablets or cell phones to show them how to fill out the census," Flores said. "Most people don't know or are afraid."
"We did a virtual census party in our neighborhood, walking people step by step through the form," Turner said. "We have called our neighbors and gone to food distribution sites to talk to people waiting in line and next month with the New Beginnings CDC, we are planning a neighborhood clean-up on one of our busiest corners where we will remind people to fill out their census and sign them up on the spot."
"One Census form is equal to $5,000 every year in federal money to the City of Detroit for vital programs like Medicare, meals for children and seniors, and grants for more police and firefighters," said Victoria Kovari, who is leading Detroit's 2020 Census effort. "At a time like this, our community needs every resource it can get and we all owe it to each other to take 10 minutes to respond to the Census."
Detroiters can fill out the census by going online at my2020census.gov. A code is not needed to complete the census online. People can also call the toll free number 844-330-2020 or complete the census using a paper form.