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Hispanic Cultural Center Counts Residents for the 2010 Census

The Hispanic Cultural Center [Centro Cultural Hispanic - CCH] staff has been working with their community to encourage them to take part in the 2010 census. Adolfo Zepeda, Hispanic Cultural Center program director said, “We recently met with our contact person with the census bureau and he said the areas we are working on in Oyster Bay, East Norwich and Bayville have one of the higher return rates on Long Island. We were more than happy to hear that since in the previous census this area had one of the least return rates on Long Island.”

CCH board member Rosemary Colvin, the grant writer for the group said, “The CCH received a grant from the U.S. Census Bureau that was matched by a private foundation who wanted to help fund a not-for-profit group doing civic work. The funding helped get a census worker, Fredy Llanos, a community organizer.”

Ms. Colvin said the government put out a call for groups with an interest in helping with the 2010 Census and were in an area identified as an undercounted area. That was true of the hamlet. As a group that has been working with the Hispanic community for 12 years, the CCH has the trust and knowledge of the community. They also run the only ESL classes in the community. There are no ESL classes offered by the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District.

“It was a good match. There were only 31 groups in New York State that got the grant. That is a big deal for the CCH,” she said.

“The hamlet is undercounted, East Norwich is not. The benefit is the grant brings new money into the community and the best thing is that the number of people in the community influences the federal funding the community will receive over the next 10 years,” she concluded.

Mr. Zepeda said the success of their program was that they have been encouraging people to take part in the census at all their community events, including when parents pick up their children at the after school programs run at Roosevelt and Vernon for all children who have English as their second language – not only Hispanic people.

Mr. Zepeda said CCH Director Luz Torres put signs up in the community that you may have seen at major crossroads in the area. “We have partnered with about 10 organizations in town and they have put up posters in all the areas. We have been getting the word out through Christ Church, First Presbyterian Church, Lilianna’s Hair Dressing salon; Filo’s Mini Market; SUNY Old Westbury; Reardon, Rapley Linder and Mehlman Insurance company; and Lourde’s Place on South Street,” he said.

Lots of Partners

“The emphasis was on the entire community, but focused on the Hispanic community. We also worked with the Oyster Bay Church of God; and were collaborators with NALEO, the campaign of ‘It’s time to make yourself count’, said in Spanish as ‘Ya Es Hora! Hagas Contar!’ a national campaign that aired on the Spanish TV networks. They provided promotional materials and training for us too,” said Mr. Zepeda.

“That as well as working with the U.S. Census Bureau representatives. They visited. They called us often. We called them when we needed them. They supplied hats, shirts, coffee mugs, and tote bags that we gave out during all our events. At every chance we got to meet with people, we talked about the 2010 Census,” he said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, households that return their 2010 Census questionnaire forms after Friday, April 16, will likely be visited by census workers, who begin May 1 going door to door to collect census responses.

The Census Bureau hoped to increase the number of people who responded by mail, since that reduces the cost of administering the census. After the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau was able to return $305 million in savings to the federal Treasury, because mail response rates exceeded expectations — a move the Census Bureau would like to repeat in 2010.

Each 1 percent increase in the national mail participation rate saves taxpayers $85 million by not sending census workers door to door from non-responsive households. It costs 44 cents for people to mail back their form, compared with an average of $57 for census takers to visit each home and collect census data.

U.S. Census Bureau New York Regional Director Lester A. Farthing said, “Households that missed the April 16 deadline should be prepared to get a knock on their doors between May and July.”

Nationwide, about 67 percent of households have mailed back their census forms. In 2000, the mail participation rate was 72 percent. The Census Bureau will continue to accept questionnaires until April 27, and attempt to avert the need for a follow-up visit to that household, but after April 16, it cannot be guaranteed.

FYI: The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution to be conducted every 10 years. Census data are used to apportion congressional seats to states; to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds; and to make decisions about what community services to provide. The 2010 Census form will be one of the shortest in U.S. history and consists of just 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide.

“If you need help in filling out your Census 2010 form, please contact the CCH at 558-7020. We have forms in Russian, Korean and Chinese as well as English. The Census Bureau will be accepting mailed in forms until about July. The figures are made public on Dec. 31,” said Mr. Zepeda.