Wayne County nonprofit helps thousands during pandemic, but worries about census impact

Leader of Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency worries about financial impact

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – A Wayne County nonprofit has helped thousands more people than usual during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the organization’s leader is worried about low census response could affect finances.

The Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency loaded food packages onto trucks outside Atlas Wholesale Food in Detroit. The final destinations are kitchens across Wayne County.

“Food, by far, has been our No. 1 request,” Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency CEO Louis Piszker said. “Second is utilities -- gas, electric and lights, and then the third one is housing assistance.”

Piszker said the agency usually helps up to 35,000 people every year, but during the pandemic, the need has been greater.

“We’re going to far exceed 150,000,” Piszker said. “We are a safety net. We provide services for our most vulnerable residents.”

Piszker said 75% of the money the organization uses to provide services comes from the federal government. The census helps determine how much money.

If you don’t take the time to be counted, organizations such as the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency could be hurt, and that hurts the community.

“If you take a family of four that makes under $40,000 a year, if that family has two children, they might not get Head Start services,” Piszker said. “If one of them loses their job and they need some help with their rent, their funding might not be available to help them stay in their home.”

COVID-19 relief funding has helped keep services going this year, but Piszker is worried about the future.

“If those dollars go down due to the fact that we lose dollars based upon formulas, because our population has been undercounted, that’s going to have a devastating effect to the region,” Piszker said.

Filling out the census takes just 10 minutes, but it can have a positive affect on the state for the next 10 years. It can be filled out online, over the phone or by mail.

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