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Phoenix ‘Model City’ For 1990 Census

July 20, 1989

PHOENIX (AP) _ Officials already are making plans for the 1990 census, getting a six-month jump on most of the rest of the country, because the U.S. Census Bureau chose it as the ″model city.″

Phoenix will share the results of its extensive planning with cities throughout the country, said Norris Nordvold, the city’s liaison with the Census Bureau.

″We have about 140 people serving on 11 subcommittees putting together plans to make sure everyone is counted,″ Nordvold said. That includes detailed plans to count homeless people.

Although most cities won’t start planning for the census until about November, the Phoenix effort has been under way since March, Nordvold said. He said a ″cookbook″ of recommendations will be prepared to help other cities.

The Census Bureau chose Phoenix ″because of Mayor Terry Goddard’s enthusiasm for the project, the city’s mixture of minorities and its growth rate over the last decade,″ according to a newsletter published by the bureau’s regional office in Lakewood, Colo.

An accurate count is important to local governments because state and federal funds are distributed on the basis of population, Nordvold said.

″That comes to about $175 per person in Phoenix,″ he said. ″If you’re not counted, we miss that much.″

In addition, Nordvold said Arizona possibly could gain two congressional seats ″if we do a good job and count everyone.″

Ellen Dumm, spokeswoman for the Lakewood Census Bureau office, said special efforts would be made to count minorities and the homeless.

Minorities were undercounted by an estimated 5 percent to 7 percent in 1980, but the 1987 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to many aliens who had been in the country illegally, should make the count somewhat easier this time, Nordvold said.

″We’re getting a lot more cooperation from Hispanic groups because there isn’t the fear this year of someone wearing a badge and coming around saying he’s representing the federal government,″ he said.

Ms. Dumm said census takers would spend the night of March 20 counting homeless people, the first time that there has been an organized effort to count the homeless.

From 6 p.m. to midnight, they will visit shelters, soup kitchens and other places frequented by homeless people, she said. From midnight to 4 a.m., they will count homeless people on the streets. And from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., they will count people leaving buildings where homeless people are known to sleep, she said.

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