PHOENIX - City officials have launched a bilingual marketing campaign that
they hope will entice Hispanics to participate in a mid-decade census that
could save millions in state and federal funding.
The Census Bureau surveys the nation's residents every 10 years, but cities
can update population figures after five years. Maricopa County cities will
mail surveys this fall to adjust the 2000 counts.
Updating the count in cities with large minority populations is critical
because minorities are historically undercounted.
An undercount can cost municipalities millions for programs such as Medicaid
and foster care, which are funded based on the census numbers. The census
also reallocates congressional seats based on population changes.
Hispanics, especially illegal immigrants, have long been undercounted
because of language barriers and the fear that their personal data will be
shared with immigration officials.
In Phoenix, about 37 percent of the city's 1.4 million residents are
Hispanic, many of whom are undocumented.
About 27,000 of Phoenix's 600,000 households will be surveyed. The city is
paying $1 million for the bilingual mail-in survey, which goes out Aug. 29.
It will include a bilingual letter from Mayor Phil Gordon urging residents
The city is also working with Spanish-language television and radio stations
to get the word out, said Norris Nordvold, the city's intergovernmental
affairs coordinator. Officials already project Phoenix likely will lose up
to $25 million in revenues beginning in July 2006 because growth has slowed.
"But if a lot of our folks don't return the survey, then we'll lose much
more, because we'll have to go door to door, and that is always very
costly," he said