Census takers to visit 95,000 East End homes

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While most Long Island households will receive the 2010 Census form in the mail this week, East End residents will be visited by census takers starting March 22.

More than 1,000 of the workers, known as enumerators, are to visit about 95,000 homes in the East End - from Riverhead Town to points east, including Fisher's Island - Bill Harfmann, the U.S. Census Bureau's Long Island area manager, said during a "Census Awareness" program Monday in Riverhead.

Harfmann said while it's the first time the bureau has counted the East End's population this way, it has done so in other parts of the country where there is no mail delivery.

"We feel this is a better way," added Patricia Valle, assistant regional census manager for Long Island and recruitment. She said the bureau must mail a census form to an actual address, not a post office box, which many East End residents have.

Consequently, Riverhead Town councilman John Dunleavy suspected the 2000 Census missed many residents.

"If you look in a phone book and someone gives you a street address in Aquebogue, and you mail it to that street address in Aquebogue, they'll never get that piece of mail. You have to know the P.O. Box," Dunleavy said in an interview. "I think there was a large undercount [in 2000] because of that reason."

Speaking to about 30 political leaders and community activists at Riverhead Polish Hall, Harfmann said, "We ask that you reach out to people in your community to let them know we're coming."

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said he would probably broadcast the news on the town's public access Channel 22 informing residents of the bureau's operation and asking that they cooperate with it.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anne Thorne-Holst told the crowd, "it can't be said often enough how important" the census is, noting $400 billion in federal aid is distributed annually to states and local governments based on population figures first established by the decennial census, then based on annual estimates.

The census also affects political representation.

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The East End count will take about eight weeks, Harfmann said. Enumerators are scheduled to visit between 8:30 or 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. They will visit homes up to six times to try to reach the head of household to answer the 10-question census form.

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