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Leaders continue push for Census participation as forms arrive in mailboxes

(photo by Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
Anna Crosslin of the International Institute, co. exec Charlie Dooley, Mayor Francis Slay, and Urban League president James Buford rally for participation in the Census outside City Hall

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis – Elected leaders in St. Louis are continuing their push to get the region's households to fill out the 2010 Census forms.

The forms are expected to start arriving in people's mailboxes this week. The data gathered on the form, especially the number of people in the household, helps determine everything from federal road and bridge money to Congressional districts.

Missouri is expected to retain all nine of its U.S. Representatives - with an accurate count. That's why St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley isn't taking any changes.

"What I've been told is that we're meeting the threshold at .1 percent, " he said. "Point one percent is only difference between us having nine Congressional districts versus eight Congressional districts." He said any redrawing of the maps would likely affect the First, Second and Third districts, which share the St. Louis region.

Leaders are paying close attention to "hard-to-count" groups like rural populations and immigrants. The International Institute of St. Louis handles most outreach to the latter.

The biggest barrier is comprehension, said president Anna Crosslin. Some immigrants may speak English well enough to read the forms, she said, but do not get the concept of a census. Others will have difficulty simply reading the forms.

" And ten years ago, a lot of the refugees were coming from Bosnia, so we really had just one big language group," she said. "In the last decade, the refugee population has really changed. And so that means that we have dozens and dozens of languages, and esoteric languages like Nepalese, and Swahili."

It's hard to determine how many immigrants the Census misses, Crosslin said. According to data from the Census Bureau, 82 percent of the county's residents returned the form in 2000. That number was about 64 percent in the city. The forms are due April 1st.


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