Over the next few days, if you haven't already, you should be receiving your Annual Street Listing form from the City of North Adams, or the town in which you live.

As noted on the form, an annual listing as of January 1 is mandated by the General Laws of Mass. Compliance provides proof of residence, protection of voting rights, veteran's bonus, housing for the elderly and related benefits. Many public benefits require proof of residency, which can be provided for any resident who has been counted in the Census.

In addition, an accurate count of a town or city's residents leads to better municipal, state, and federal services, as the current population count is the basis for determining eligibility and allocation of State and Federal funds, many programs, and grants.

The annual form also is used in providing information for selection of jurors.

What it cannot be used for is voter registration or change of party affiliation. You can do that here. However, a warning on the form makes it clear that "failure to respond to this mailing for 2 consecutive years shall result in removal from the active voting list and may result in removal from the voter registration rolls."

This year's city census came with an insert reminding residents of the upcoming 2020 U.S Census, which will be online this year for the first time. Participation will determine state and federal funding levels for our area for programs like MassHealth, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, fuel assistance and school funding. Population counts are also used to determine the number of representatives in Congress and the Mass. Legislature. You'll be seeing more reminders about the U.S. Census over the coming weeks.