Detroit’s best chance to recover from COVID-19 is filling out your Census form, Mayor Duggan says

  • Federal funding or school lunches, police officers and more depend on complete count
  • City’s response rate as of National Census Day is 28.8%
  • Mayor says an incomplete count will cost city millions, hurt its ability to recover


The extent to which Detroit can quickly recover from the COVID-19 crisis is the extent to which Detroiters fill out their 2020 census form, Mayor Mike Duggan said.

Today is National Census Day and as of today, Detroit’s overall Census response rate is at 28.8%, on par with many large cities, but well behind the response at this time a decade ago. National Census Day is celebrated on April 1, 2020, to represent the date by which nearly all households have received invitations to participate in the 2020 Census.

“We know that every community is going to have a long road ahead after the COVID-19 crisis passes,” said Mayor Duggan. “How quickly and how completely our city recovers depends greatly on the federal resources we have coming to the city and that is all based on our census count.”

Among the critical services funded by the city’s share of federal funds, which is based on census population counts, include:

  • School Lunches and other food assistance programs
  • Police protection
  • Public health programs
  • Housing subsidies, and more


While COVID-19 has consumed everyone’s attention today, Detroiters can’t forget to do the single most important thing that determines it’s future, Duggan added.

“Every Detroiter who does not fill out their census form, costs their neighbors $50,000 in these vital services over the next decade,” said Victoria Kovari, who is leading Detroit’s 2020 Census effort. “At a time like this, our community needs every resource it can get and we all owe it to each other to take 10 minutes to make a difference in our community for 10 years.”

Kovari said that Detroiters can fill out the Census from the comfort of their own home, by going online at, or  call the toll free number 844-330-2020 or complete using a paper form.

Just 10 years ago, thousands of Detroiters didn’t complete their 2010 Census, costing the City and estimated $1.5 billion in federal funding for health care, school lunches, recreational centers, parks and other critical services essential to the communities and residents of Detroit.

To educate and motivate Detroiters, the City created an aggressive fundraising goal of $3 million to revamp grassroots marketing outreach, digital footprint, and launched a strategic marketing campaign, “Be Counted Detroit.” The purpose of the campaign is to amplify the Census messaging and increase Detroit’s response rate.

Thanks to the work of the Office of Development and Grants and the support from public and private partners, such as the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, The Ford Foundation, Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund, Kresge Foundation, DTE, General Motors, and a host of others, fundraising goals have surged and marketing efforts increased, including digital billboards, social media campaigns, direct mail, email marketing promotions, and newly revised marketing plans due to Covid-19. For the first time ever, The City witnessed a collaborative philanthropy effort from local partners to reach as many Detroiters possible.

“We asked our philanthropic partners to invest in our efforts early on because of a number of known barriers,” said Sirene Abou-Chakra, City's Chief Development Officer. “We are fortunate they stepped up because COVID-19 has forced us to call an audible and rethink the strategy. That’s possible only because we have the resources to do so.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic so altering people’s daily lives and hampering Kovari’s ability to hold census rally’s and other large public events, the city plans to use its marketing resources to get people who may be distracted by the COVID issue to motivate them to focus on something that can help the community, specifically, filling out their census form.

Marketing efforts has shifted to intensified digital and TV promotions including streaming advertisements, social media promotions, virtual phone banks, reminder post cards to residents, digital events, and volunteer phone calls to neighbors, friends, community leaders and influencers to reach Detroiters while at home.

The response rate of Detroit and some other major cities may be attributable to the fact that the Census Bureau – due to COVID-related work stoppages, have stopped counting paper census forms for the time being. Detroit has the largest percent of households responding by mail, which is 12.3%, more than triple national average, and 15.7% of households complete their census online.


Media Contact
Jessica Byrd
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