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For Immediate Release:
Contact: Mario H. Lopez
(301) 457-5080

Census Board Members Advocate Empowering Comm...

CHICAGO - “No child, no mother, no family living in Robert Taylor Homes should be missed or forgotten when Census 2000 is completed next year,” declared Census Monitoring Board Co-Chairman J. Kenneth Blackwell Tuesday as he and Board Member Mark Neuman met with community leaders and residents to discuss ways to involve them in addressing the expected undercount of one of the hardest-to-count neighborhoods in the country.

Blackwell said that one of his primary objectives is to find and propose new, creative ways to count those sectors of American society that were undercounted in 1990. “Over four million people were missed. A disproportionate number were African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. Most disturbing, more than half were children,” Blackwell said. “Urban areas and inner-city neighborhoods such as Robert Taylor Homes were particularly hard to count. As an African-American who spent a significant portion of his childhood in public housing and as a former Mayor of Cincinnati, I know first-hand the challenges we face in counting these areas.

The Co-Chairman pointed out that Robert Taylor Homes is the nation’s largest single housing project, comprised of 4321 units located in 28, sixteen-story buildings. He noted that 99% of the residents are African American and that 84% earn less than $10,000 a year. He said that in 1990, the Census Bureau used traditional techniques and methods and counted 8787 people. The adjusted census would have added 673 persons to that count. Yet, a 1991 Statistical Profile by the Chicago Housing Authority estimated the population at 12,320 residents – 3500 more people than the census count.

“A Census Bureau plan to statistically adjust the 2000 census will not put the people it fails to actually count back into Robert Taylor Homes or other hard-to-count neighborhoods around the country,” Blackwell said. “This is a social injustice of inexcusable proportions. Their fair share of scarce federal dollars for community programs and their political representation at the local, county, state and federal levels are based on how many residents live in Robert Taylor Homes.”

“Developing creative programs, empowering community leaders in hard-to-count areas, providing them with resources, and hiring local citizens who actually live in these neighborhoods is the best way to get the most accurate count possible,” said Blackwell. “The Census is more than just a number. It is a tool used by many involved in solving problems of poverty and suffering. The outcome of the 2000 Census is too important to leave to an uncertain statistical adjustment when we have the tools to count real people where they really live.”

Blackwell brings a distinguished record to his position as Co-Chairman of the Board. He is the elected Secretary of State of Ohio, past State Treasurer and a former Mayor of Cincinnati. He is a former Deputy Undersecretary of the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development and served as Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Mark Neuman, a native of Champaign, Illinois, is an expert on international trade and retail industry issues. From 1989 to 1991, he served as Director of Congressional Affairs for the U.S. Census Bureau and was the agency’s highest ranking Hispanic official.

The U.S. Census Monitoring Board is an eight-member bipartisan panel – four appointed by Congress and four by the President -- to oversee the preparation and implementation of the 2000 census.