March 3, 2010

Mayor Daley Urges All Chicagoans To Take Part In Upcoming U.S. Census

Outreach Initiative Begins to Assure Participation in Latino Community, Which Has Been Traditionally Undercounted
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Mayor Richard M. Daley today urged all Chicagoans to participate in the 2010 federal census, on which the City’s federal funding for the next 10 years will be based.

Census questionnaires will be mailed to homes later in March and the U.S. Census Bureau asks that they be completed and returned by April 1.

Daley said one of the City’s most important tools in providing services for residents is the funding it receives from the federal government.

“Especially in this difficult economy, it’s critical to make sure that we receive every single federal dollar the city is entitled to. To do that, we want to make sure every Chicagoan is counted in the Census,” Daley said in a news conference at the Humboldt Park Public Library, 1605 N. Troy Av. He was joined by leaders of national, regional and local Latino organizations which are partnering with the City to assure the broadest possible participation by the Latino community in the Census.

“If the Census data isn’t accurate, it directly affects the amount of federal money that will come to Chicago for the next ten years – money that helps fund critical programs such as education, public safety, transportation, community development and social services. Today, I am asking every Chicagoan to take part in the Census,” the Mayor said.

Daley said that for many months, the City has been engaged in a number of census outreach activities through its “Complete Count” Committee, which is made up of community, business and civic leaders.

The group has established subcommittees focusing on groups that have been undercounted in previous censuses – such as seniors, veterans, ex-offenders, immigrants, the homeless and students.

Each subcommittee is co-chaired by community and civic leaders who have strong ties to these particular groups and know best how to reach them.

The Mayor was joined by representatives of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), all of which are involved in efforts to maximize Census participation in the Latino community.

Among other things, the groups are partnering with other local organizations to educate communities on the importance of the Census, providing bilingual materials and support and serving as a trusted voice for residents who might be reluctant to complete a Census form.

Daley said few cities are undertaking such a targeted campaign to reach some of these populations. Some of the committee initiatives include:

  • The faith-based subcommittee is hosting Census Sunday on March 7th, at which information will be distributed at church services throughout the City;
  • The students subcommittee will be informing kids about the process as part of Census in the Schools March 15th through the 19th;
  • The disabilities subcommittee is working with Pace to distributed 18,000 census flyers on the bus system;
  • The veterans subcommittee is reaching out to all federal, state, county and city veteran’s facilities;
  • The ex-offender subcommittee is working with 25 community leaders and organizations to involve that population in the Census.

Daley said the census questionnaire is simple – only 10 questions – and confidential.

The City has been working with the Census Bureau to identify sites throughout the city that will serve as “Questionnaire Assistance Centers” and “Be Counted Centers,” where residents will be able to get more information and assistance with completing their questionnaires.

The Humboldt Park Library will serve as one of the centers and the complete list of centers will be posted on the City’s website.

Daley also reminded Chicagoans that the Census Bureau will be hiring individuals to conduct the outreach that will be needed after April 1. Information about how to apply for the jobs is avalable by calling 311.

“Households that don’t return the questionnaire will be visited by outreach teams after April 1, so the easiest way to do things is to mail in the completed questionnaire by the deadline,” Daley said.

“We know that the most critical phase of our work begins now. We need every federal dollar we can get,” he said.