Local News

Mar 15, 2010 9:35 PM by Ariel Wesler

Census questionnaires hit local mailboxes

More than 120 million U.S. Census forms started hitting mailboxes today.

The constitution requires the government to tally up the population once every ten years. That data is used to divide up resources and funding to communities nationwide.
This year's form is one of the shortest ever.

It's arriving at a mailbox near you. Ten questions government officials say will take you no more than ten minutes to complete.

"We can be counted for grants, which will affect public safety, police and fire, roads," said Spokesman Mark Van De Kamp with the city of Santa Maria.

The questionnaire asks:

1) The number of people living at your residence,
2) Any additional people that might be there as of
April 1.

3) Do you own or rent?
4) Your telphone number
5) Name
6) Sex
7) Age and Birthday.
8) Are you of Hispanic origin?
9) Race
10) If you sometimes live elsewhere.

In 2000, young adults and spanish speakers were among the least likely to turn in their forms. . .many distrusted the government, but officials say there's nothing to fear.

"They're going to count everyone who's here legally or illegally, whether their citizens or non citizens. They want them counted," Van De Kamp said.

For every person that doesn't return their census, the city loses around $2,000 in possible funding.>

The forms come in six different languages and starting Friday, census workers will open questionnaire assistance centers at city hall and various shopping centers.

"We'll have people that are trained to assist individuals who need help with actually filling out their census, said Frank Sparks, Asst. Manager at the Santa Maria Census Bureau.

"We only get one chance to get this right for the next ten years," Van De Kamp said.

And their counting on you.

On May 1, Census workers will take to the streets, going door to door to talk with people who have not returned the census. If you send it back immediately, you can save the government around $1.5 billion dollars in follow up visits.

In 2000, Santa Barbara county had a 74 percent response rate. San Luis Obispo county was at 75 percent. Both were higher than state and national levels.

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