By Simon Albaugh
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – It’s the final stretch of the United States 2020 Census, with a last-ditch effort to get the remaining homes counted for the only census in the next ten years. There are a lot of players working to make this count as accurate as possible, and for good reason. A city has a lot to gain from an accurate count.
But Hamtramck doesn’t have a great record right now, with almost half of Hamtramck homes not participating in the 2020 Census. It’s been months since the census started, so the outreach effort must continue. For the next ten days, Hamtramck’s Complete Count Committee may be in for a challenge.
Hamtramck is currently at 58.9% of homes responding. That’s over 10% below the state-wide average of 70.1%, leaving Hamtramck vulnerable to missing some essential federal funding. Federal Pell Grants can provide students from Hamtramck with college and training opportunities, SNAP Benefits are appropriated to each state and municipality based on census results. Even federally subsidized childcare can be funded based on the count.
Needless to say, it’s essential to move to the most accurate count available to a city. But we can’t forget the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic in spreading the message about the census. In response to this, many cities started what’s known as a Complete Count Committee. Hamtramck’s is run by Virginia Skrzyniarz, CEO of the Piast Institute.
“Ms. Skrzynoarz and the Complete Count Committee are utilizing local knowledge, influence, and resources to educate the community and promote the U.S. Census through targeted outreach efforts,” said an emailed statement from Kathy Angerer, City Manager for Hamtramck. “[They] will help the U.S. Census Bureau get a complete county for 2020 through partnerships with the local city council, administration, and many community organizations.”
As of right now, Hamtramck has been slowly improving its count over the last few months. Because of the dynamic of the city’s population, it is difficult to engage everyone in the community. Still, the count in Hamtramck is better than Detroit and Highland Park, at almost 10% above both cities.
At the lead of all immediately local cities is Dearborn, which has a count above the state average at 73.5% self-responding. Although the city of Hamtramck may have a more difficult task ahead of it, the city is still actively working with its Complete Count Committee to bolster the count.
“Prior to the nationwide COVID-19 Pandemic, information booths were set up at events, at the local schools and in city hall to inform residents of the Census,” said City Manager Angerer. “Recently at the Health Hike (Post-COVID) there was a census gathering group posted at the event. Organizations have also used volunteers to go door-to-door to reach their members and encourage participation.”
All of this is meant to illustrate that for the next 9 days, we all need to spread the word about the census. With a count at 60 or 70%, the City of Hamtramck will be able to accomplish much, much more through federal aid.
For a complete list of grants determined by census figures, click here.