Disorganization Hurts Census Efforts

Communities feel ignored, others asked inappropriate questions

By Aixa Velez
|  Saturday, Apr 3, 2010  |  Updated 9:00 AM CDT
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Disorganization Hurts Census Efforts

Expect delays in background checks by month's end.

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Despite the 125 U.S. Census committees formed in Chicago to encourage people to fill out their forms, some community activists say the effort was disorganized and lacked support.

Educational materials arrived late, translators were not always available and the $1.2 million raised in private donations for outreach efforts was spread among too many committees, community workers said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"It was a difficult time for us in the beginning. It seemed disorganized," said Tuyet Le, executive director of the Asian American Institute. "We started working on the census last January (2009), but after that, it was like, where do we go from here?"

Some community groups delegated people as volunteers to go door-to-door weeks before the census forms arrived in the mail. That was confusing and could hamper efforts by certified government census workers when they go to households, said Stanley Moore, director of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Some volunteers on outreach handing out pledge cards even asked citizens’ legal status and other questions that the actual census does not, which may have caused confusion.

While many communities have a lot of outreach efforts, some are lacking.

"The black community is being totally ignored," former Chicago Ald. Dorothy Tillman told the Tribune.

Census officials recently ranked Chicago among the worst cities in the country when it comes to returning forms.

If Chicago continues to lack census responses, then there’s a high risk of losing its fair portion of the $400 billion in federal funds to be distributed over the next decade, according to the Tribune.

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