Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Census?
Everyone living in the United States is asked to complete a simple questionnaire every ten years that asks for basic information about the people who live or sleep in their homes. The 2020 Census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.
Why does the United States perform a Census count?
The Census provides critical data that nonprofits, lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products and support for you and your community. Every year, the Great Lakes Bay Region (Bay, Isabella, Midland, and Saginaw Counties) receives millions of dollars in federal funding based on Census data. This funding is used for vital community services like Medicare, Medicaid, health center services, SNAP, WIC, school lunch programs, education programs, road and bridge improvements, housing and childcare. Michigan stands to lose $1,800 per person per year of federal funding for every person that is not counted. The results of the Census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. It’s also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790. https://2020census.gov/en/what-is-2020-census.html
How will I know the Census request isn’t a scam?
The Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau will never ask for:
- Your Social Security number
- Your bank account or credit card numbers
- Money or donations
In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party. If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity:
- First, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date
- If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.
- If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department
How do I fill it out?
The 2020 Census is primarily online. You can respond online once you receive your invitation in the mail or during the open period of mid-March-July 2020. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can take the Census at a local community resource like the library, a community center, the Secretary of State office, and many local township halls. You can also respond by phone or mail. For help on how to respond using a paper Census form, call 1-877-352-3676.
The Census is available in multiple languages both online and over the phone.
Where can I take the Census in the Great Lakes Bay Region? Visit your local library to access a computer with internet. In addition, many local nonprofits are partnering with the Great Lakes
Bay Regional Census Hub to offer technology, internet access, and educational materials to help the community take the Census. Watch for details on how Senior Services is helping in this effort.