Census workers are continuing their efforts this week to count Long Island's homeless for the 2010 Census even as Tuesday's soggy weather postponed visits to outdoor encampments.

"We started on Monday in the rain going to soup kitchens and homeless shelters," said Chris Gallagher, manager of the U.S. Census Bureau's Ronkonkoma office.

Planned visits to "unsheltered outdoor locations where homeless people are known to spend the night - under bridges, near buildings, in the woods" has been pushed back one day to tonight, Gallagher said.

A bureau spokesman said the homeless are part of the bureau's effort to try to count everyone in the nation and would not become a separate category.

"We do not characterize them as a homeless person" on the census form, said Raul Vicente Jr., a spokesman for the Census Bureau's New York regional office in Manhattan.

"This is not an easy operation," he said. "It's very difficult, even after we find these folks living in these conditions" because some don't want to cooperate.

Operators of shelters and soup kitchens say they have notified their clients that census workers are coming and told them that being counted helps direct federal aid for programs in the community.

"The census folks were here yesterday and they did indeed count all of our families," said Nancy Nunziata, executive director of HELP Suffolk, which houses 76 families in a North Bellport shelter.

Jean Kelly, executive director of Hempstead-based Interfaith Nutrition Network, which runs several soup kitchens and three shelters Islandwide, said the INN does not allow interviews of clients on its property, and Kelly said her staff will be taking a head count and asking for gender and race information. Census staffers stationed outside will ask clients as they leave to fill out more information, Kelly said, and "we'll advise them not to be frightened to participate."

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