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Tuesday, April 4, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 125

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Census counts important for Texas

Centers opening to help raise awareness of Houstonian's

By Maria Emily Vainstein
Daily Cougar Staff

Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown announced in late March the opening of Census 2000 Questionnaire Assistance Centers across Houston in an effort to increase awareness of, and participation in, this year's census.

The centers have been placed in various locations around Houston in order to aid people in the completion of their census forms. They will provide language guides that can translate, explain and help complete the forms in 49 different languages.

To help ensure citizens take advantage of the centers, Yellow Cab Service Corp. and its subsidiary Fiesta Cab will offer free rides to centers for the first 1,000 Houstonians who use them.

"The city is always pushing for Hispanics to be counted because they're so undercounted, and it's difficult for senior citizens to fill out their forms alone, so we were asked to help transport them," said Roman Martinez, Yellow Cab's regional director for Hispanic marketing.

Millions of dollars in federal funding depend on an accurate count of Houstonians in this year's census, and city officials have stressed the importance of an accurate minority count in particular.

"The census means money and representation," Brown said. "Houston was the most undercounted major city in the 1990 census -- millions of dollars that should have come to Houston were sent to other states. We cannot allow that to happen again."

Census counts help determine funding for a variety of federal projects, including health care, education, highways and crime prevention. However, recent statistics show Texas near the bottom of the list in terms of states whose residents have returned their forms. Moreover, Houston is last among the state's large cities in terms of participation so far.

Brown expressed hope that any Houstonian needing assistance with Census 2000 will visit the Questionnaire Assistance Centers.

"If you do not answer the census, it does not mean you do not exist," Brown said. "You do exist -- but you may exist with crowded schools, understaffed medical facilities, run-down neighborhoods and bad roads."

Locations of the Questionnaire Assistance Centers by state and region are available on the U.S. Census Bureau's Web site, www.census.gov, or from the city of Houston Census 2000 office at (713) COUNT-US.
 

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