These numbers are no game – City officials stress the importance of Census 2010

Everyone with a pulse in the City of Revere is being advised to fill out his or her U.S. Census form next month.

Census 2010 reminder cards will be arriving in mailboxes around Revere any day now, and official Census forms will arrive in mid-March. The U.S. Census is completely confidential and conducted every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution. It serves as the official count of everyone – citizen or non-citizen – in the country.

Already, city officials and federal census takers are preparing to ramp up efforts to count the population this week, and in Revere this time, there is a concerted effort to get an extremely accurate count.

“My goal is to prove the City of Revere has more than 55,000 residents,” said Diane Colella, who is the city’s Election Commissioner, but is also heading up the local Census 2010 effort. “They said we had 47,283 in 2000, and they estimate we have well over 50,000 and we want that official count.”

Colella and Mayor Tom Ambrosino said that they both believe the 2000 Census numbers for Revere were very low, and that the true number was probably much higher.

“It wasn’t accurate and it wasn’t as accurate as it could have been,” said Colella. “I think a lot of it has to do with – at the time – the city was going through a lot of changes with new cultures coming in. A lot of it may have had to do with language barriers. I think now the federal government is being more aggressive.

“I think officials at every level of government are being very aggressive this time because the need for money is so great and the economy is so bad,” she continued. “There is a heightened awareness.”

Ambrosino indicated in an earlier interview that the 50,000 population mark is very important, as there are ample grant opportunities for cities over 50,000 that Revere has lost out on.

Colella explained that there are so many government benefits that are determined by the Census, and with a low count, it only means that Revere will not get what it’s due.

“Programs will be in jeopardy; programs for children, veterans and seniors,” she said. “You have to understand how dependant the city is on that accurate count. If you get a free breakfast or your children get a free breakfast at the McKinley all summer, that comes from answering the Census. That funding comes as a direct result of the Census. If you don’t respond, we don’t know you’re out there and the city cannot prepare financially for growth.”

Colella added that the Census also affects representation in Congress, as well as $400 billion in government funding.

Once the forms arrive, those with questions can contact the Election Department at (781) 286-8200, or visit one of several Questionnaire Assistance Centers that will be set up and staffed throughout the city.

Some of the locations will include:

•Revere Public Library, Beach Street

•Immaculate Conception Church, Lowe Street

•First Congregational Church, Beach Street

•Papa Gino’s, Squire Road

•Stop & Shop, Squire Road

•Shaw’s, Parkway

•MGH-Revere Clinic, Ocean Avenue

Colella added that if people don’t respond to the form, they will surely get a personal visit from the Census.

“If people don’t answer the form, they can expect a knock on the door from the federal government,” she said. “They will all have proper identification and will probably be out in Revere after May 1st.”

The Census contains only 10 questions this time, and officials estimate that it should take only 10 minutes.

Census Q&A

Q: Who is to fill out a Census 2010 form?

A: All U.S. residents must be counted – people of all races and ethnic groups, both citizens and non-citizens.

Q: When was the first Census?

A: In 1790.

Q: Will the Census form be the same as it was in 2000?

A: No. This time it will only be the short form, just 10 questions. The long form is now part of a different survey.

Q: What programs are funded based on Census counts?

A: Some of the programs include Title 1 grants for Revere Schools, Head Start programs, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, public transportation, road work and reconstruction, elderly programs, and emergency food and shelter.

Q: Is the Census data really confidential?

A: Absolutely. Your answers are protected by law and are strictly confidential. It is illegal for the Census Bureau, or its employees, to share your personal information with any other government agency – not law enforcement, IRS, welfare, FBI or immigration. No court of law or even the President of the United States can access individual responses. Census workers even face up to 5 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine for divulging information illegally.

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