Census Bureau Local Office Hosts Open House

Denise Rolark Barnes - WI Staff Writer | 4/22/2009, 10:14 p.m.

Grassroots Partnerships Seek to Eliminate 2010 Undercount

Spanning the D.C. area are hundreds of Census Bureau temporary employees armed with hand-held computers engaged in the first stage of the nation€s 2010 population-counting operation - address validating. It is a necessary task that marks the first stage of the Census Bureau€s decennial event, and it has proven to be a welcomed employment opportunity for hundreds of local residents.

The Census Bureau€s Washington, D.C. East Local Census Office, located at 7812 Eastern Avenue, N.W., held an open house on Fri. April 17, providing local officials and 2010 Census partners a chance to get a first-hand look at the new technology being used to €validate the addresses of every household in the District this spring,€ according to Census officials.

€We are building upon the achievements of Census 2000, and making improvements to ensure an accurate count for Washington, D.C.,€ said Philadelphia Regional Director Fernando E. Armstrong.

Thus far, more than 280 D.C. residents have been hired to work on the address validation project, according to local officials.

Thomas Waters, job developer at the Marshall Heights Community Development Center on Benning Road, N.E., said local residents have been engaged in two phases of training. The first phase netted 19 residents who are now out on the streets validating addresses, he said. The second group will complete its training this week. In total, 30 Ward 7 residents who have been trained for temporary Census jobs that pay $20 per hour for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

€This is the kind of partnership we need in order to fulfill the mission of Marshall Heights and the Census Bureau, to help reach people you wouldn€t ordinarily be able to reach,€ Waters said.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton joined the speakers at the Open House and targeted her remarks the 6.4 million undercount in 2000. She commended the Census Bureau for creating partnerships with nearly 140,000 grassroots organizations €who will get to the people you [the government] will never get to,€ she said.

€Let€s talk turkey,€ Congresswoman Norton added. €Who are the people that are undercounted? They are the ones who don€t think they have much to give. More likely, they are people of color.€ Norton went on to say that many of those who are not counted are people who come from places who don€t trust the government.

Abdul Kamus, director of the African Resource Center, thanked the Census for €courting€ the African community and confirmed Norton€s statement. €Most of the African immigrant community comes from very oppressed countries,€ he said, €and they don€t trust the government, so that don€t trust census.€

Within a 10-mile radius of the D.C. East office, Kamas said, there are nearly 20,000 African immigrants who live and worship there. €One of the reasons we have the census is because if you go five blocks from here, 80 percent of the student body are immigrant children and 20 percent of them are African immigrant children. So it means we need more resources for our children in schools, and we need more resources for our communities.€

In the next few months, more jobs will need to be filled as census takers for the 2010 census. It is anticipated that over 1,000 positions will need to be filled by Washington area residents between now and the spring of 2010.

Census Day is April 1, 2010, the date when questionnaires that will be mailed to every household in the nation. The count will include homeless shelters and any other place where displaced people live.

The Census, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, requires a complete count of every man, woman and child and in the right place, according to an official press release The information is used as the basis for congressional representation as well as the distribution of federal, state and local funds totaling more than $300 billion annually.