US Census Backlash Hurts Cities

mn_hunters_point_0003_jc1 Monteverde Admittedly in the 24-hour news cycle the memory lasts about the same length of time, but it wasn’t that long ago that we got to read about the cave-in of the U. S. Census Bureau to the partisan assault on their partnerships, including ACORN and more recently SEIU.  This is all rich since it’s about their credibility particularly in immigrant, diverse, and lower income communities where government agent credibility is low and there is a traditional huge undercount.  Furthermore with between 10000 and 50000 “partnerships” all of this was window dressing without a penny changing hands.

In this light an article posted on the New American Media site caught my eye entitled:  “Scarcity of Non-Profits in Neediest Communities Will Hinder 2010 Census”  by Cassidy Friedman.  Most of the piece was focused on California and San Francisco particularly and the fact that even though the City of San Francisco had appropriated almost a half-million dollars to fund door-to-door outreach efforts by nonprofits in this well resourced city, the efforts were flagging in lower income areas where most of the nonprofits did not have a base and were not well know.  Bay View – Hunter’s Point and Visitacion Valley were the examples used because the undercount was lowest in these two areas in the 2000 Census.

“This is a big, big challenge,” said Ted Wang, a census consultant with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, which is coordinating private sector funding for outreach in California. “Neighborhoods that have the least amount of infrastructure often are the ones that are the most difficult to count.”

Does it really matter, especially to the future citizen wealth of lower income communities?  Hell, yes!  We are talking big bucks here.

“…when the city was undercounted by 100,000, resulting in a loss of more than $300 million in federal funding, according to a 2007 study.   If the same pattern repeats across the state, California residents could lose billions of federal dollars for vital services over the next decade.”

These Republican and rightwing attacks may look like they have little impact, but when you start counting how much money is at stake especially for the beleaguered cities and strapped states in the current economy, it is easier to understand the real game here and the partisan effort to deny resources and capacity where it is needed the most.

Oh, and it goes without saying, if my memory serves me, that one of the strongest bases for San Francisco ACORN used to be in Bay View – Hunter’s Point and similar efforts.  I think you can put the pieces of this puzzle together for yourself can’t you?

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