The Census is probably the most important non-partisan examination of immigration in America. To be effective, people need to be counted. This article highlights the fact that many U.S. cities are concerned that there will not be a good count next year.
The factors that contribute to the count are diverse, but 2010 will be unique because of home foreclosures that displace residents, and increase hostility toward immigrants, which discourages participation in the census.
A study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found the following:
Pew’s review of preparation efforts in 11 major cities, which had undercounts of residents in 2000 of up to 1.5 percent, found only five cities had committed public funds to census outreach – Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Phoenix and Baltimore. Even when cities had allotted funds, most were at sharply lower levels compared to 2000, due to the recession that has made state budgets tight.
Los Angeles faces difficulties of finding many of its residents who are now living in foreclosed houses and recreational vehicles, or “doubling up” with friends and relatives in single-family homes. Yet the city’s $770,738 budget for outreach work is about half the amount it had in 2000.
Chicago, which missed an estimated 32,000 residents in 2000, spent nearly $1.3 million in city funds a decade ago; this year, it has allocated no money.
Philadelphia, the nation’s sixth largest city, has been particularly slow in getting preparations under way, although officials insist they can catch up. A decade ago, the city set aside $200,000 for the census effort, but it has no such funds this time. Philadelphia also has not yet put in place a city outreach committee – unlike many other major cities – and has been relying on some support staff from the Census Bureau’s regional offices.
Other cities with no public funds for census outreach include Atlanta, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh.