San Francisco “Complete Count Committee” Director Urges Residents to Be Census 2010 “Early Birds”

From left to right. Census Partnership specialist Wade Woods, Status on Women Commissioner Andrea Shorter, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Supervisor Carmen Chu during Locke’s visit to San Francisco early this month. Photo by Kevin Jefferson.

Adrienne Pon, OCEIA’s Executive Director, has announced  that “March 19 has now been designated as SF Counts Day.  Residents are invited to a Civic Center Plaza Rally and Census information Fair – with prizes and giveaways for the first 1,000 people who return their forms between Noon and 2:00 PM. on that day at the park across from City Hall.
The City’s comprehensive plan for “making every resident count” in the 2010  Census is now being tested as official survey forms begin to appear in mail boxes across the City – ready to be completed and returned to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
San Francisco’s  Complete Count Committee – comprised of 25 volunteers selected by Mayor Gavin Newsom in May 2009 for their  leadership experience in the City’s “diverse” communities – has moved into high gear with a spate of  events scheduled in many areas of the City traditionally considered to be “hard to count” for a wide array of reasons.
Staffed by the City’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and bolstered by a variety of community-based grantees and City agencies, sub-committees of “Complete Count” have been implementing a series of innovative plans developed for the purpose of enticing these “undercounted” communities of the past to mail that completed survey back to the U.S. Census Bureau as quickly as possible.
Messages about the importance of the Census have been re-vamped and translated into a variety of languages to appeal to the City’s richly diverse residents; meeting agendas have been modified to allow time for questions and answers on subjects of concern; incentives that encourage public attendance at meetings have been identified and utilized effectively, as has distributing Census materials widely where people are already expected to be gathered, for any reason.
The opening of Black History Month at City Hall, a soccer tournament in the Mission, the Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day parades, and a Block Party in the Tenderloin all became good venues for “pitching” the Census.
In the Bayview Hunters Point community (identified as hard-to-count), members of the Mayor’s Complete Count Committee joined with leaders of local organizations and businesses – and Census staff – to hold informal family-focused  “TOWN HALL” meetings in four BVHP neighborhoods as a prelude to a community-wide Gospel Festival celebrating the anticipated early return of completed forms to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The Festival will be held on Sunday, March 28, from 1:00 – 5:00 PM at the Alex Pitcher Room, Southeast Community Facility, 1800 Oakdale Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124.
An unexpected, but welcome result of the process in the Bayview has been the high level of cooperation that developed among all the individuals and organizations involved in confirming that everyone does count!  That bodes well for the future!