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Census Bureau to visit non-responders' homes

March 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Millions got census forms in the mail, and as officials seek higher counts, they will visit non-responders' homes.Census forms got mailed out about two weeks ago, and as it stands right now the city of L.A. and the county of L.A. are running just below the national average when it comes to the number of people who have mailed those forms back.

You have until the end of April to mail them back, and if you don't, someone will come knocking at your door.

Answering a census form by mail costs 46 cents, but if these forms go unanswered, then the census bureau makes a house call and that costs $57.

"For every one percent that is returned nationally, we save $85 million in taxpayer money," said U.S. Census L.A. Regional Manager Sneha Desai.

Desai said that in the two weeks since the census forms were mailed out, about 46 percent of the country has mailed them back. In the city of L.A., that number stands at 39 percent and in the county of L.A., it's running at 44 percent.

"All of the funding for schools, for hospitals, for the roads, for welfare, I mean for any of these programs, the money is determined by the population," explained Desai.

Billions of dollars in government funding are at stake, yet tens of thousands will not participate in the process.

"The number one thing is the fear of filling it out, but I can assure everyone that it is confidential. The information is protected by law," said Desai.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is urging residents to participate and is hoping to avoid an undercount.

"The most undercounted are the foreign-born, are immigrants. So we've had particularly a really tough time in convincing them that this information is confidential," said the mayor.

The Census Bureau said that it takes about 10 minutes to fill out that form, and if folks do not send them in by the end of April, Census bureau workers will start going door-to-door starting around May 1.