Between today and March 20, Auburn residents will receive invitations in the mail to take part in the 2020 Census, an effort that takes place every 10 years to count every individual living in the United States.
Everyone living in the United States, and other U.S. territories, are required by law to be counted in the census.
Residents can complete the census in one of three ways: by mail, phone or online. The goal of the census is to count people where they live most of the time on Census Day on April 1.
Census results are critical to state and local governments, lawmakers and businesses. Federal money is distributed based on data gleaned from the census.
"It's important for our citizens to fill their census forms out," said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. "Our community needs to be represented. There are certain services that we have to provide for our citizens. The resources for those services come from the government, and those resources are accounted for by the population in your community. So if we're not all accounted for officially, it's going to impact the amount of resources that we will have to provide for those citizens.
"It's extremely important that everybody participates in the census. It will certainly make the city's resources go longer and be more efficient."
Billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like Medicaid, community block grants and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are allocated based on census results.
In addition to community funding, the census count will affect congressional representation. House districts are redrawn every 10 years as a result of the census. Alabama is one of a number of states that are at risk of losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Alabama has had seven seats since 1973.
In the 2010 Census, Alabama had a 62.5 percent self-response rate compared to the national average of 66.5 percent.