Brentwood Holds Census Kick-Off

Carla Peay | 1/27/2010, 10:43 a.m.

By Carla Peay - WI Staff Writer

Dozens of volunteers greeted citizens at the door as they handed out canvas bags, pens, cups and other items all stamped with the slogan €Census 2010: It€s in our hands€ at the Brentwood Town Hall on Sat., Jan. 23. The event was designed to get the word out about the importance of participating in the Census, and the drawbacks of under-participation.

€In the last Census, we only had 60 percent participation,€ said Brentwood Mayor Xzavier Montgomery-Wright. €It is crucial we try and get everyone counted because an accurate count is crucial to our town receiving the social services we need. We also have a large elderly population that has very special needs. We have to start bringing funds back into this town,€ Montgomery-Wright said.

The town of Brentwood has a majority Black and Hispanic population, and the undercount in the last Census resulted in less money allocated for the town€s critical needs, including transportation and access to health care.

On hand to talk with citizens were several local and state legislators, including Sam Dean (Dist. 6) and Will Campos (Dist. 2) of the Prince George€s County Council, State Senator David Harrington (Dist. 47), and Congressman Chris Van Hollen (Dist. 8).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, $400 billion is allocated to state and local governments for Census redistricting. In 2008, the population count in the state of Maryland was 5,633,597. In Prince George€s County, it was 820,852.

€We help towns to form committees to help ensure we get an accurate [Census] count,€ said Fernando E. Armstrong, Regional Director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

€We help communities to take ownership of the Census process, because it is very important to limit the undercount. Communities play a key role in making sure the count is accurate. We have events like this to help citizens understand the process so they can trust the process,€ Armstrong said.

The Census Bureau also provides a staple of temporary jobs, mostly for Census takers. There are nine Census Bureau Offices in Maryland €" Baltimore East, Baltimore West, Catonsville, Easton, Frederick, LaPlata, Largo, Rockville, and Towson.

Census workers are required to pass an exam, and can take the test as many times as needed until they pass. Those interested in possible employment with the Census Bureau can call 1-866-861-2010, and will be directed to the local bureau closest to their zip code.

Census forms will be arriving in mailboxes across the country beginning in March.