Schenectady County

Minority census count effort starts

Three Capital Region chapters of the NAACP are stepping up efforts to ensure minorities are counted

Three Capital Region chapters of the NAACP are stepping up efforts to ensure minorities are counted in the 2010 Census more accurately than they were 10 years ago.

Chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, representing Albany, Saratoga and Schenectady counties, announced Monday the creation of an “African-American Complete Count Committee” in cooperation with the U.S. Census Bureau.

The committee will conduct outreach and awareness campaigns in minority communities, designed to ensure as many residents of these communities as possible return the 2010 Census questionnaire, said Paul Webster, president of the Schenectady County chapter of the NAACP.

Questionnaires will be mailed to every address in the United States starting March 15.

“There are far more African-American males in this nation than were ever identified,” Webster said.

The African-American Complete Count Committee is one of several committees established to reach populations the Census Bureau calls “hard to count.” The populations include people with low income and limited education, the unemployed, immigrants, migrant workers, household headed by females with young children, people who do not speak English well and homeless people.

Several counties, including Schenectady, have formed Complete Count Committees. There also is an Hispanic Complete Count Committee in the Capital Region and a Guyanese Complete Count Committee is in formation.

Webster said the Schenectady NAACP chapter wants to make sure that all people are counted in the 2010 Census.

Census Bureau data showed that the 2000 Census missed many of these hard-to-count populations in Schenectady, which resulted in an under-reporting of the city’s true population.

For example, the questionnaire return rate was less than 30 percent in several census tracks that include the Hamilton Hill and Vale neighborhoods. Several other tracts in the western and northern parts of the city returned less than 60 percent. Towns in Schenectady County, meanwhile, had returns of between 76 percent and 80 percent for the 2000 Census.

The final response rate for New York was 63 percent and the final response rate for the nation was 67 percent for this census, data show.

The total number of people the 2000 Census missed in the city of Schenectady is unclear, said Annette DeLavallade of the Census Bureau. But she said comparisons with school enrollment and voting records indicate a significant gap in the data.

The Census Bureau estimates more than 209,000 people in New York were not counted in the 2000 Census.

DeLavallade said an accurate census count will determine the amount of aid the federal government will give the state for roads, schools, hospitals and more. The information even helps determine where best to site fire stations and the type of equipment the trucks should carry, she said.

“Each person not counted is estimated to cost $1,900 per year, so over the course of a decade, that amounts to $20,000,” DeLavallade said. The federal government disburses some $400 billion annually.

Census data will play a key role in determining redistricting of congressional and state legislative district boundaries in 2011, said Webster. “The Capital Region will play a role in this, as we are expected to lose a congressional seat upstate,” he said.

To make the 2010 Census as easy as possible, the Census Bureau created a form with 10 questions. The 2000 Census had 50.

“This is the first time in the history of the census that a questionnaire only has 10 question,” DeLavallade said.

The Census Bureau has also developed other forms that seek to obtain information from primary-age and college-age students and from the homeless, senior citizens and people who speak a foreign language. All these groups were under-reported in the last census, DeLavallade said.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply