Salt Lake City employees counting for census say getting numbers right makes a difference

SALT LAKE CITY -- From school lunch programs, to Medicaid, to the amount of politicians we send to Congress—one number changes all of that.

Workers from the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office took to the streets these past few weeks to log houses that aren’t in their system.

“The more people counted, means the more opportunity for those in our city and in our county,” said Erinn Summers, a political correspondent for Mayor Jackie Biskupski.

Summers said she’s helping count houses for the 10-year census conducted here in Utah, because having accurate numbers can make all the difference.

“This is everything from Medicaid, CHIP, the national school lunch program, to after school programs, roads and sidewalks,” Summers said. “The federal money that we get for infrastructure is tied to the number of people who get counted.”

Summers said most of the houses they encounter are in the system, but she and Dan Haycock—who’s interning with Mayor Biskupski’s Community Empowering program—are looking for the ones that fell through the cracks.

“For those that are half-houses but people still live in them, so that the census can send those surveys to the people who live in those residences,” Haycock said.

This is the first year you can fill out the census online. Summers said the census form is provided in 50 languages and that when a postcard comes in the mail, it will have a website code or phone number you can call to complete it.