Hitting the streets, census style

The census, that constitutionally mandated national head count that takes place every ten years, doesn’t kick off until this time next year. But beginning April 6 of this year, a prep team will hit the streets of Western North Carolina to make sure all addresses are accounted for when it comes time to mail questionnaires and knock on doors.

“They will be going out and identifying each and every living quarters,” says Andrea M. Robel, an Asheville-based Partnership Specialist for the U.S. Census. “So that when the census questionnaire is mailed in 2010, it will be mailed to everyone.”

Armed with post office information and GPS systems, the group of about 50 people will be cruising neighborhoods, taking note of every home in WNC’s 26 counties and double checking mailing addresses and physical residents.

At this point, the team won’t be asking any questions, but Robel wants the community to be aware that they will be out on the streets collecting data. Certain to catch the attention of residents, the census employees will be wearing identification badges around their necks and carrying canvas bags and handheld computers, and their cars will have census cards on the dashboards, Robel says.

As the team finished up training at the beginning of April, Robel said the census will be conducting another round of hiring and training in the late summer and early fall – preparation for the 2010 count.

The data from a census complete count is used in a wide variety of applications, including legislative decision making, district drawing, distribution of federal and state funds and determining the number of House representatives a state gets in Washington D.C.

For more information on what to expect during the census count, or to check on

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