Census workers take to the streets

Published 9:31 pm Friday, April 3, 2009

Every 10 years, it happens.

While the 2010 census questionnaires will not be mailed off until next March, preparations for the census will begin next week.

On Monday, more than 2,000 address listers will take the streets of Virginia for the United States Census Bureau’s address-canvassing operation.

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“Address canvassing marks when the census jumps from the page to the pavement,” William W. Hatcher, regional director at the Charlotte Regional Census Center, said in a press release. “We’ve been planning this constitutionally mandated counting for years. Now the census will be visible to everyone.”

On Monday, the address listers will begin going around the city making sure the addresses on file are accurate and updating the list with addresses the bureau might not have, such as those in new housing developments that have been built since last decade’s census.

“Address listers are going out to virtually every street in America and, of course, that includes every street in Suffolk, Va.,” said Katie Blixt Cody, regional media relations contact for the Census Bureau. “We need the most up-to-date and accurate address list possible. A complete and accurate address list is essential to have a successful census, because that’s the basis for where we send out the census forms next spring.”

For the most part, the listers will not need to go door-to-door asking for information.

Residents might be asked if someone lives in a garage apartment or guesthouse, if their property has such structures, but Cody said that is unlikely.

Cody added that address listers can be identified because they will have a badge and handheld computer with them, and under no circumstances will a lister ask for personal information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card numbers.

According to a press release from the Census Bureau, preparing for an accurate census is important, because census numbers result in major decisions for localities.

Census results determine the number of congressional seats for each state, the shape of legislative and local government districts, and how $300 billion in federal funds is distributed local communities.

The address-listing process will continue through mid-summer, and there are three local census offices in Virginia to help with the effort.

For more information on the address canvassing or the census process, call (804) 916-5440.