By John Lynds
Two weeks ago, Mayor Thomas Menino was in East Boston to encourage the immigrant community to take part, and pride for that matter, in this year’s census.
However, elected officials and community leaders are concerned that East Boston is falling dangerously behind the rest of Boston and the country when it comes to completing the census.
Ten days after all households received the 2010 Census questionnaires, only very few residents have mailed back their completed forms. The average participation for East Boston as of today is only 19.6 percent while 29 percent of all households in the U.S. have already mailed back their completed forms.
“We should all be very concerned about this and join community efforts to have all of East Boston counted,” said City Councilor Sal LaMattina.
One organization that is actively working to get Eastie counted is Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE). Their main goal is to increase the participation of Eastie residents on issues that impact the community.
NUBE’s volunteers are making calls and knocking on doors to encourage all Eastie residents to participate in the 2010 Census.
“When you get a call from NUBE or one of their volunteers knock at your door, join in the effort by telling your friends and neighbors to complete the Census,” encouraged LaMattina. “It is critical for each resident of East Boston to be counted in the 2010 Census. For every person that is not counted, the community loses funding for schools, roads, health and public services. Political representation is also affected, because census numbers are used to define congressional districts, and Massachusetts could lose an important seat in Congress.”
According to NUBE only 50 percent of Eastie households participated in the last Census held in 2000, compared to the national rate of 72 percent.
“We need to do better in 2010. All information provided to the Census is 100 percent confidential and cannot be shared with any other agency by law,” said LaMattina. “If you don’t mail back the form, census takers will be visiting homes to ask the questions. It is simpler to take 10 minutes to complete it and mail it back as soon as possible.”
If you require assistance, there are 10 Questionnaire Assistance Centers all over East Boston with qualified personnel to help fill out the form. For a list of locations, you may call NUBE at (857) 249-2105.
One such center is at The McKay School on Orleans Street. The school is undertaking a community education and awareness project regarding the 2010 US Census.
Until April 19, the school will be hosting a census questionnaire assistance center in the school’s cafeteria from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
At the Harborside Community Center two weeks ago, Mayor Menino stood with representatives from the Office of New Bostonians and immigrant rights activists to encourage the crowd to take the time to fill out the census.
“It only takes 10 minutes to fill out 10 questions to help your city for the next 10 years,” said Menino.
The Mayor spoke of the importance of filling out the census and noted our representation in Congress and precious resources are based on these numbers.
“For every person we don’t count our city loses $1700 dollars of funding per year,” he said.