Friday, April 9, 2010

Census 2010: Being Counted

The initial part of the 2010 Census is over, and most people have already received and returned their census forms. But what if you don't have a home, or a reliable place to receive mail? What if you're homeless and want to be counted?

Here at CVM, we did our own outreach to ensure that our clients and the agencies serving them had an opportunity to be counted. Several weeks ago, we sent out a voice message featuring the audio portion of a Census PSA by President Obama. Our managers prefaced this message with local information about the Census and how clients can be counted. Listen to one of the messages, sent by KariNoir, the manager of the Cleveland CVM program. A lot of our program managers around the country have sent out additional reminder messages.

It's really important for everyone, especially those experiencing homelessness, to be counted in the Census. Not only does this data determine the number of seats your state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the data is also used in part to determine how much of the $400 billion in federal funding is allocated for things like job training centers, emergency services, hospitals, schools, public works projects (bridges, tunnels, etc.), as well as homeless assistance programs.

The Census attempted to include people who are homeless in their count. While it's not the catchiest name I've ever heard, they developed a special "Service-Based Enumeration (SBE)" operation specifically designed to count people who might be missed during the traditional count of housing units and group quarters. During the last three days in March, the Census worked with local partners to count people in three locations: emergency and transitional shelters with sleeping facilities; soup kitchens and regularly scheduled mobile food vans; and outdoor locations such as encampments underneath highway overpasses or bridges and other areas where members of the homeless population are known to live. We hope these efforts were successful, and that everyone experiencing homelessness had an opportunity to be counted.

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