Census Bureau Begins Address Checks In Central Ohio.

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The federal census bureau next week begins training one-thousand neighborhood canvassers. The newly-hired workers will use hand-held computer devices to document an estimated 1,200,000 addresses in Franklin County. The canvassing precedes the 2010 census and for local communities millions of dollars are at stake. WOSU’s Tom Borgerding reports.

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With flags and patriotic music federal, state, and local leaders helped open a new census office in West Columbus and urged full participation in next year’s headcount. Deputy Census Director Elaine Wagner says neighborhood canvassing will start in Columbus in April, almost a year before the formal census begins. Wagner says an accurate list of addresses is critical.

“We send you the form, we hope you’ll fill it out and send it back in, to do that we have to make sure that address list is up to date and the biggest operation that is involved in that is sending people out to walk or drive the streets and identify every address.” Says Wagner.

Wagner estimates more than one million addresses will have to be verified in the Columbus region. She says the bureau also wants to find transient and homeless populations whether people “live in caves, tents, or tree-houses.” Franklin County commissioner Paula Brooks used her time at the podium to allay individual fears.

“I think alot of people when they hear the government is coming, and they want you to sign a form, they’re afraid. This isn’t that sort of thing at all, it is exactly the opposite.” Says Brooks.

Deputy Director Wagner adds that while some census information is used immediately to determine congressional districts and budget allocations, federal law prohibits use of any personal information for 72 years.

“So if people are worried about there personal data, yes that is absolutely protected, we only produce statistical reports. Those statistical reports are widely distributed and are available to any one to use.” Says Wagner.

County commissioner Brooks and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman say an accurate and full head count is critical to the region’s economic health in the coming decade.

“For every person that is not counted in the city of Columbus we will lose $2,263.00 dollars.” Coleman says.

Information from the 2010 census will be available on January 1st, 2011.

Tom Borgerding WOSU News

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