Timothy Culp-Northwood, a census enumerator, does follow-up visits to homes in Racine, Wisconsin. He was assigned to try to get people who did not mail in census forms to participate in the census. (AP)

Timothy Culp-Northwood, a census enumerator, does follow-up visits to homes in Racine, Wisconsin. He was assigned to try to get people who did not mail in census forms to participate in the census. (AP)

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. (AP)

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. (AP)

The city of Detroit has an estimated population of 672,662 people. We get that number from taking a census. (AP)

The city of Detroit has an estimated population of 672,662 people. We get that number from taking a census. (AP)

The seal of the Census Bureau shows you the department’s roots in commerce. The quill pens were used to write down numbers in the accounting books. (AP)

The seal of the Census Bureau shows you the department’s roots in commerce. The quill pens were used to write down numbers in the accounting books. (AP)

Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to be part of a census. (AP)

Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to be part of a census. (AP)

Tough To Tally

Posted: March 2, 2020

One, two, skip a few . . . ninety-nine . . . one hundred?

The 2020 census is coming. That’s when the United States government counts all the people living in America. But when the U.S. Census Bureau starts counting in Detroit, Michigan, people could get skipped . . . and not just a few. Census day is April 1. Are the people of Detroit ready?

Edith Floyd lives in Detroit. She understands why being counted matters. Working in a community garden, she digs up dirt for composting. A cold, stiff breeze blows across scores of empty lots. Only a few homes still stand. “We need all the money we can get for the city and for ourselves,” she says. “There’s very few people over here, and everybody counts.”

Most people in Detroit live in neighborhoods where it is tough to get a headcount. Many people are poor. Thousands of houses stand vacant. Detroit doesn’t have good internet access. That matters this year. For the first time ever, the internet will be used in the census. Officials hope it will make counting easier. But in Detroit, many people won’t be able to submit census forms online. A census helps government leaders learn about who is living in the country. The census asks questions like: “What is your job? How old are you? How many people live in your house?”

Does it really matter if the census skips large groups of people? Yes. The government gives out $800 billion every year. The census helps leaders fairly divide that money. The numbers also decide which states gain or lose seats in Congress. They determine which cities will get hospitals and schools.

Once, Detroit was a lively place. In the 1950s, people could get good jobs there. But as years passed, families couldn’t afford to move out of the city. Detroit grew poor. Today, city leaders are working hard to fix problems. They know a correct census count will help provide necessary money for their city.

But in a city that has had hardship, people lack trust. Volunteers have knocked on nearly 130,000 doors in Detroit neighborhoods. They want people to know: You count too.

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. — Luke 12:7