Flint, MI—The deadline for the 2020 Census is around the corner and Census takers in the city are racing to get as many Flintstones counted as possible. 

Why the rush? While the lack of a solid end date means getting as much done as soon as possible, the real answer lies in what Flint citizens stand to gain from filling out the census, or lose if they don’t. 

Anthony Turner, Flint City’s Coordinator for the 2020 census says Flint could risk losing billions of dollars in federal funding if all of its residents aren’t accounted for. According to him, Flint receives about $30,000 per person over the course of 10 years, or $3,000 annually from the federal government. 

Over the course of a decade, that money is used to fund hundreds of programs, initiatives and organizations throughout the city, all of which aim to benefit the Flint community. 

“That’s $3,000 of funds to the entire city, that’s not just Flint City Hall or the Flint police, that’s places like Hurley Hospital, schools, the MTA, health clinics. All of these [organizations] get federal funding dollars,” Turner said. 

While the $3,000 figure may seem trivial when compared to the billions of dollars moved around the city each year, Turner said the lack of money adds up quickly when you take into account even just a handful of households. If even 40 members of Flint’s 95,000-person population are not counted, regardless of whether or not they are children or adults, the city is already missing out on $1,000,000 worth of potential funding. 

In a city where every cent is already accounted for before it’s even spent, a million dollars can mean a lot. “ What Flint residents need to understand … and have to put their head around is, when one person doesn’t get counted, that’s $3,000 per year that doesn’t come back to provide those services that the city of Flint desperately needs,” Turner said. 

Despite Turner’s reassurances, many citizens, particularly residents of Flint’s northside, are skeptical at best when it comes to filling out the census.

According to Patrick McNeal, director of the North Flint Neighborhood Action Council, members of the community in north Flint just don’t see a point in filling out the census. Years of economic decline in the area have left many wondering whether any money that moves through the city will ever make it to them. 

For many, McNeal said, the city’s push for its residents to fill out the census has felt disingenuous, like the city is asking for something from its citizens with no intention of giving anything in return.

“ … The best time to have a friend is before you need one,” McNeal said. “If you really want to collect information from a community, then you have to develop a friendship with the community prior to you needing something from them. Because the question is ‘do you all want the money from the census because you all want to do what you want to do, or do you all really care about me?’ That’s what I keep hearing more and more of.”

Holly Wilson, neighborhood liaison for the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, spends much of her time in Flint’s northside working with different organizations to coordinate events like food drives.

Wilson said she believes the lack of trust toward the city and specifically what it does with federal funding, comes from a place of misunderstanding. The scope of what federal money covers is so expansive, it might be hard to realize that many of the benefits and aid available to residents in the area come from originate with that funding. 

“Do you get Medicaid, do you get food stamps, do you have school-age children who are part of the Title I program? … every child there benefits from free breakfast and lunch if they go to a Title I school,” Wilson said. 

According to Wilson, the lack of understanding regarding the origin and final destination of federal funds also comes from the fact that the money, unlike many other types of funding like grants and donations, is not disbursed in one lump-sum. 

In addition to this, she says citizens also need to understand the information they provide now, will be informing the federal government on the city’s needs for the next decade. Not filling out the 2020 census could have adverse consequences on the city and its residents as far as 2030. 

Wilson used the Flint Water Crisis as an example. “ All of that money is predicated on … the decade before,” Wilson explained. “When the water crisis happened, and they sent in the national guard, the sent subsidies, the didn’t just take our word for it. They didn’t say ‘okay there’s a crisis, let’s see what we can do,’” Wilson said. “They utilized the data that they received from the census.”

In a situation like that, Wilson said, the basic information collected from the 2010 census like the number of children in a household was used to plan for necessary shipments of water, filters and other resources. 

While these misunderstandings and lack of trust toward the local government can be addressed by members of the community like Wilson, McNeal and Turner, other stigmas regarding the census are much harder to shake. 

For as long as the census has existed, many who value their privacy, don’t trust the federal government or are in the country without proper documentation have been wary of sharing their personal information. 

McNeal himself has had conversations with citizens who believed the information they shared with the census would be used for nefarious reasons. 

“I had a young man the other day tell me that they thought the census was the FBI .. they were concerned with the information they gave in the census, the FBI might come get them for some odd reasons, even though the hadn’t done anything wrong,” McNeal said. 

For members of Flint’s growing Latinx community, this is a fear many have had to live with every day of their lives for years on end. 

Asa Zuccaro, director of the Flint Latinx Technology and Community Center said this fear regarding where an individual’s information goes once sent to the census has made the accurate enumeration of Latinx communities across the country difficult. In Flint, it has been no different. 

According to Zuccaro, the current state of the federal government has made it harder for the center to spread awareness about the benefits of the census. Despite there being clear legislation stating no other branch of the government will have access to their information the rapidly shifting landscape of immigration policies in the U.S has made making one’s presence known to any federal agency a daunting proposal. 

“When we see how quickly and how easily immigration policy changes … I think that could affect [census results],” Zuccaro said. 

While the perceived risk of filling out the census has always been there, Zuccaro said members of the Latinx community have a lot to lose by not making their presence known. According to him, unless a specific number of members from one race or culture are identified within a community, many services would only be available in English. This would make accessing these services even more difficult. 

“There is federal legislation put into place to make sure that citizens of a city, region or area … have equal access to services … when we talk about the barriers that are present across language and culture and we see how they affect our community, that legislation dictates that it would have to be 100 members … of a specific language or culture before that legislation would be able to make it mandatory for services to be accessible across that specific language or culture,” Zuccaro said. 

These services and programs touch on every aspect of living in the city of Flint. From the Hazardous Waste Management State Program and the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Program to Americorp and SNAP, census funding helps them all. 

Turner has identified the hundreds of other programs that receive federal funding in this document.

The city of Flint and it’s diverse communities all stand to benefit from the most accurate results possible Turner said. “Everyone within the four corners of this city needs to be aware and fill out their forms so we can bring more resources in here so we can present a better quality of life for the citizens.”

How to Participate in the 2020 Census

There are three ways to submit your household information for the 2020 Census: online, by phone or by mail.

You will be asked a series of questions about the members of your household. Remember: this is just for headcount information and there will be no questions about your citizenship status!

Respond by Phone:

Call 844-330-2020 and a representative will walk you through the process. There are also language support lines for those who don’t speak English. You can find these numbers here.

Respond Online:

Visit my2020census.gov to begin the questionnaire. You can also access this site from your smartphone. The census questionnaire is also offered in many other languages. You can find the links to these here.

Respond by Mail:

Mail your paper questionnaire to:

U.S. Census Bureau

National Processing Center

1201 E 10th Street

Jeffersonville, IN 47132

If you have additional questions or require additional help, you can email census@cityofflint.gov.


A LIST OF FUNDS DISTRIBUTED BY THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BASED ON CENSUS DATA

  • Medical Assistance Program HHS
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program USDA
  • Medicare Part B Physicians Fee Schedule Services HHS
  • Highway Planning and Construction DOT
  • Federal Pell Grant Program ED
  • National School Lunch Program USDA
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families HHS
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher HUD
  •  Title 1 Grants to Local Educational Agencies ED
  • Special Education Grants to States ED
  • Head Start HHS
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children USDA
  • Federal Transit Formula Grants DOT
  • Foster Care Title IV-E HHS
  • Child Care Mandatory and Matching Funds of the Child Care and Development Fund HHS
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program HUD
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Program HHS
  • School Breakfast Program USDA
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance HHS
  • Hurricane Sandy Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grants (CDBG-DR) HUD
  • Unemployment Insurance DOL
  • Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants ED
  • Adoption Assistance HHS
  • Improving Teacher Quality State Grants ED
  • Crime Victim Assistance DOJ
  • Community Development Block Grants/Entitlement Grants HUD
  • Block Grants for Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse HHS
  • Social Services Block Grant HHS
  • Federal Transit Capital Investment Grants DOT
  • Career and Technical Education – Basic Grants to States ED
  • WIA Dislocated Workers DOL
  • Home Investment Partnerships Program HHS
  • Rural Rental Assistance Payments USDA
  • WIA/WIOA Adult Program DOL
  • WIA/WIOA Youth Activities DOL
  • English Language Acquisition Grants ED
  • Wildlife Restoration DOI
  • Public Housing Capital Fund HUD
  • Community Development Block Grants/ State’s Program and Non-Entitlement Grants in Hawaii HUD
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program USDA
  • HIV Emergency Relief Project Grants HHS
  • Formula Grants for Rural Areas DOT
  • Adult Education – Basic Grants to States ED
  • Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant to the
  • Block Grants for Community Mental Health Services HHS
  • Capital Assistance Program for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities DOT
  • Special Education Grants for Infants and Families ED
  • Water and Waste Disposal Systems for Rural Communities USDA
  • Cooperative Extension Service USDA
  • Senior Community Service Employment Program DOL
  • Indian Housing Block Grants HUD
  • Special Education Preschool Grants ED
  • Americorps CNCS
  • Assistance to Firefighters Grant DHS
  • Emergency Food Assistance Program (Food Commodities) USDA
  • Emergency Shelter Grants Program HUD
  • Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program DOJ
  • Child Welfare Services State Grants HHS
  • Community Facilities Loans and Grants USDA
  • Payments to Agricultural Experiment Stations Under the Hatch Act USDA
  • National Motor Carrier Safety DOT
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS HUD
  • Weatherization Assistance for Low-Income Persons DOE
  • Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) DOL
  • Rural Education ED
  • Grants to States NFAH
  • State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program DOT
  • Violence Against Women Formula Grants DOJ
  • Supportive Housing for the Elderly HUD
  • Federal Transit Metropolitan Planning Grants DOT
  • Fire Management Assistance Grant DHS
  • Nonpoint Source Implementation Grants EPA
  • Small Business Development Centers SBA
  • Developmental Disabilities Basic Support and Advocacy Grants HHS
  • Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants HUD
  • Family Violence Prevention and Services/Grants for Battered Women’s Shelters Grants to States and Indian Tribes HHS
  • Emergency Food Assistance Program (Administrative
  • Economic Adjustment Assistance DOC
  • Water Pollution Control State, Interstate, and Tribal Program Support EPA
  • Cooperative Agreement to Support Navigators in Federally Facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces HHS
  • Coastal Zone Management Administration Awards DOC
  • Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness HHS
  • Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program EPA
  • Basic Center Grant HHS
  • State Wildlife Grants DOI
  • Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants (Section 306C) USDA
  • State Public Water System Supervision EPA
  • Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities HUD
  • Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Grants ED
  • Payments to 1890 Land-Grant Colleges and Tuskegee University USDA
  • Promotion of the Arts Partnership Agreements NFAH
  • Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Allocation to States DOJ
  • Abstinence Education Program HHS
  • Native American Employment and Training DOL
  • Promotion of the Humanities Federal/State Partnership NFAH
  • Hazardous Waste Management State Program Support EPA
  • Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness HHS
  • Historic Preservation Fund Grants-in-Aid DOI
  • State Energy Program DOE
  • Emergency Watershed Protection Program USDA
  • Rural Business Enterprise Grants USDA
  • Supported Employment Services for Individuals with
  • Significant Disabilities ED
  • Special Programs for the Aging Title VI, Part A, Grants to
  • Indian Tribes Part B, Grants to Native Hawaiians HHS
  • Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants HHS
  • Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Assistance Program DOJ
  • Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program USDA
  • Hunter Education and Safety Program DOI
  • Program of Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights ED
  • Children’s Justice Grants to States HHS
  • Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant HHS
  • Special Programs for the Aging Title VII, Chapter 2 Long Term Care Ombudsman Services for Older Individuals HHS
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant HHS
  • Emergency Community and Water Assistance Grants USDA
  • Rehabilitation Services Client Assistance Program ED
  • Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grant Program DOJ
  • Urban Indian Health Services HHS
  • Beach Monitoring and Notification Program Implementation Grants EPA
  • Rural Cooperative Development Grants USDA
  • State Clean Diesel Grant Program EPA
  • Community Development Block Grants/Special Purpose Grants/Insular Areas HUD
  • Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities – Grants for Protection and Advocacy Systems HHS
  • Special Programs for the Aging Title VII, Chapter 3 Programs for Prevention of Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation HHS
  • State Underground Water Source Protection EPA
  • State Grants for Protection and Advocacy Services HHS
  • Independent Living State Grants ED
  • Juvenile Accountability Block Grants DOJ
  • Rural Housing Preservation Grants USDA
  • Job Access Reverse Commute DOT
  • Grant Program to Establish a Fund for Financing Water and Wastewater Projects USDA
  • National Fire Plan – Wildland Urban Interface Community Fire Assistance DOI 
  • Title V Delinquency Prevention Program DOJ
  • Special Milk Program for Children USDA
  • Medical Assistance Program HHS
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program USDA
  • Medicare Part B Physicians Fee Schedule Services HHS
  • Highway Planning and Construction DOT
  • Federal Pell Grant Program ED
  • National School Lunch Program USDA
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families HHS
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher HUD
  • Title 1 Grants to Local Educational Agencies ED
  • Special Education Grants to States ED
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children USDA
  • Federal Transit Formula Grants DOT
  • Foster Care Title IV-E HHS
  • Child Care Mandatory and Matching Funds of the Child Care and Development Fund HHS
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program HUD
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program HHS
  • School Breakfast Program USDA
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance HHS
  • Hurricane Sandy Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grants (CDBG-DR) HUD
  • Medicare Part B Physicians Fee Schedule Services HHS
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher HUD
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program HUD
  • Hurricane Sandy Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grants (CDBG-DR) HUD
  • Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants ED
  • Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants HUD
  • Cooperative Agreement to Support Navigators in Federally Facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces HHS
  • Reading First State Grants ED
  • Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program DHS
  • Payments in Lieu of Taxes DOI
  • Tech-Prep Education ED
  • State Grants for Innovative Programs ED
  • Medicaid Transformation Grants HHS
  • Anti-Gang Initiative DOJ
  • Byrd Honors Scholarships ED
  • Work Incentive Grants DOL
  • Literacy Through School Libraries ED
  • Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities Grants to States HHS
  • New Freedom Program DOT
  • Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration ED
  • Citizen Corps DHS
  • Dutch John Federal Property and Disposition Assistance Act DOI