Committee working to ensure all Oakland County residents are counted in 2020 census

U.S. Census data determines the boundary lines of federal, state, and county legislative districts, and how billions of dollars in federal and state funds are distributed. These funds pay for critical programs around health, education, transportation, child and elder care, emergency preparedness and more. Researchers estimate that for every person not counted, communities lose approximately $1800 in federal funding annually.

Last Thursday, Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David T. Woodward (D-Royal Oak) and Commissioners Janet Jackson (D-Southfield) and Shelley Goodman Taub (R-Bloomfield Township) introduced a resolution to establish an Oakland County Complete Count Committee (CCC). The Oakland County CCC will be dedicated to educating the public about the importance of participating in the census and ensuring that county residents, including those in historically difficult to count populations, are accounted for in the upcoming U.S. Census on April 1, 2020.

“Millions of dollars are at stake,” said Woodward. “Undercounting by as little as one-half of 1% could cost our county upwards of $100 million over the next decade in lost revenue for important services. That’s why we are forming this group to work in partnership with the U.S. Census and our local communities to make sure everyone participates, and everyone is counted.”

The Oakland County CCC aims to serve as the leading resource for the county in the pursuit of a complete count of Oakland County residents. Woodward is appointing Jackson as chair and Taub as vice-chair. He will appoint the remaining membership accordingly:

(1) Designee from the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Office
(1) Designee from the County Executive Office
(1) Citizen representing the faith community
(1) Citizen representing the education community
(2) Citizens representing local government
(1) Citizen representing minority groups

Other interested individuals, community organizations and local non-profits will be invited to offer their insight and assistance. The involvement of community partners is important because some segments of the population are at high risk for undercounting during the census, particularly people who are less engaged in the civic process and those that are transient or homeless, living in nontraditional housing or that have limited literacy.

The primary objectives of the Oakland County CCC will be:

(a) Build public awareness around the importance of the census and census activities
(b) Help recruit census workers when jobs become available
(c) Partner with local governments and community organizations
(d) Make recommendations to the Board of Commissioners regarding how to further support a complete count in Oakland County

“The Complete Count Committee will be essential for effectively educating people and enhancing participation in Oakland County,” said Jackson. “The goal is to make sure everyone is counted and engaging all our diverse communities will be critical for accuracy and inclusion. I am excited to partner with local organizations and community leaders to ensure historically hard to count populations in our county receive the information they need to participate and be included in the 2020 Census.”

“It is very important that we do everything in our power to make sure that everyone living in Oakland County is counted,” said Taub. “That includes people here on visas and seniors who live in Oakland County over six months a year – even if it’s six months and one day – but who might spend winters in Florida. Parents of college students should also be aware that if their children reside away from home, they will be counted in their college towns.”

The Oakland County CCC will coordinate its efforts with representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Chicago Regional Office, which oversees Michigan census activities. At the conclusion of the 2020 census, the Oakland County CCC will submit a report of its activities and efforts to the full Board of Commissioners.

The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, which requires a headcount of everyone living in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas of the U.S. every ten years. The primary goal of the census is to count everyone once and in the right place. The U.S. Census Bureau partners with tribal, state and local governments, as well as community-based organizations, faith-based groups, schools businesses, the media and others to educate residents and motivate them to participate. Community influencers can be most effective due to their ability to create localized messaging that resonates in their area and the fact that their voices are often best trusted by local residents. To learn more about the U.S. Census and Complete Count Committees, please visit www.census.gov.

For additional information about the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, visit www.oakgov.com/boc.

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