LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A new U.S. Census form will allow people to write in their ethnicities instead of having to pick one category and ignore others to which they may also belong.

U.S. Census officials unveiled the new form Wednesday and also outlined the agency's plans for counting the nation's homeless.

The new form will allow participants to write in their own ethnicity in the ``some other race'' category if it isn't included, said Anthony Greno, a census manager.

Traditionally, Americans have been asked to choose one of four racial categories listed on the census. In recent years the growth in the number of people of mixed race led to calls for a new, multiracial category.

The government in 1997 rejected a separate ``multiracial'' category but said it would allow people to list their ethnicities.

It was not immediately clear how the ``other'' category will be considered by federal authorities who use census figures in compiling national trends and statistics.

Ken Worley, an assistant regional census manager for Southern California, said census-takers will now count the homeless on an individual basis.

``This time, we're going to soup kitchens, we're going to shelters and we're going to community-based facilities,'' Worley said.

The agency also plans to increase cooperation with homeless-advocacy groups and hire the homeless as census-takers, he said.