Friday, January 29, 2010

Residents Urged to be Counted in 2010 Census by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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South Queens residents are being urged by their elected officials to stand up and be counted in the 2010 U.S. Census so the community can get its fair share of federal funds.

“The Census offers a critical snapshot of Queens and our communities,” said Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park). “The federal government uses Census figures to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding, impacting everything from schools and hospitals to our roads.”

The 2010 Census will also determine Queens’ representation in the U.S. Congress and state Legislature for the next 10 years.

For every New Yorker counted in the 2000 Census, the federal government spends nearly $2,000 a year, providing the state with over $38.2 billion in federal program funding based on population, according to a statement released by the New York State Senate.

Unfortunately, it can be a challenge collecting data from all residents in south Queens.

“Many of the people living in our community have not been accurately counted in previous Census surveys,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). “Such low, inaccurate Census counts in our borough in 2000 resulted in lower per capita funding, as compared to Manhattan and Brooklyn, for vital services affecting all our residents who depend on libraries, schools and hospitals.”

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) noted that south Queens would benefit greatly by increased participation in the Census because that would translate into increased federal funding for police, fire, education and other services for the community. “It would be a tremendous boost to this neighborhood in terms of the amount of money that we would be able to qualify for,” Ulrich said.

Community boards are also involved in the borough’s effort to increase participation in this year’s census.

“In 2000, only 54 percent of Queens residents returned their Census forms,” said Community Board 10 chairwoman Betty Braton. “The 2000 response rate in Community Board 10 was not as good as it should have been either. An undercount in the Census may not seem important to some, but it is very important as the data gathered very much factors into how more than $400 billion in federal funding is allocated to states and cities.”

CB 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey said she is looking forward to the Census due to the large influx of people into the community from various countries since 2000. “I certainly would encourage everybody to be counted in this census,” Carey said.

The 2010 Census form comprises 10 questions, which should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete, according to Census officials.
The questions ask a respondent’s name, age, ethnicity, relationship status and whether he or she owns or rents a home. Under federal law, the personal information collected by the Census Bureau is entirely confidential and cannot be shared with any federal, state or city agency.

Questionnaires are slated to be mailed beginning on March 1. Completed forms should be mailed back by April 1.

Between April and July, Census workers will be visiting households that did not mail back the forms. The following are recognition tips from the Better Business Bureau to assure the validity of a Census field representative in the event one knocks on your door:

The field worker must present an identification badge that contains a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date.He or she may also be carrying a bag with a Census Bureau logo.

The field representative will provide residents with supervisor contact information or the regional office phone number for verification, if asked.

The field representative will provide people with a letter from the Census Bureau director on official letterhead.

They will never ask for a Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number.Census workers also never solicit for donations and will never make contact by e-mail.

The Census Bureau is hiring individuals for a wide range of positions, including Census takers, crew leaders and Census clerks. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and pass a written test. For more information, applicants can call (866) 861-2010 or (347) 967-4020 from Monday to Friday between 5 and 9 p.m., or on weekends between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.