[Hpn] U.S. to keep count of homeless hidden

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Sat, 23 Jun 2001 13:00:35 -0400


Just came across the following forwarded article while doing some digging 
around for news online regarding the subject of "homeless":

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-------Forwarded article-------

Thursday, June 21, 2001
The Plain Dealer <http://www.cleveland.com/plaindealer/>
[Cleveland, Ohio]
US & World News section
U.S. to keep count of homeless hidden
<http://www.cleveland.com/world/plaindealer/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news/9931158122553568.xml>

By JOAN MAZZOLINI and DAVE DAVIS

The U.S. Census Bureau has decided to keep the number of homeless
Americans a secret, for now.

Census Bureau officials yesterday acknowledged that they will not
separately list the number of people sleeping in shelters, living in cars, 
under bridges and on sidewalks as they did 10 years before.

The figures on these hidden Americans were to be released this month
with the last wave of data culled from the so-called "short form," the
eight questions asked of nearly every American.

But that changed in March, two months after President Bush took
office. Rather than release information on homeless people with the rest of 
the data, the bureau's executive staff decided to do a special report on 
people sleeping in shelters that will come out in a year or so, according to 
Edison Gore, deputy chief of the Census Bureau's
decennial management division.

"We want to build some caveats around the [shelter] numbers," Gore
said. "The caveats would be that these numbers in no way represent a
count of the homeless. We were concerned about the numbers being
misused, basically." Gore said politics did not play a role in the
decision.

Homeless advocates who helped with the count said yesterday they
were not informed of the Census Bureau's decision to put the homeless
in a catchall "other" group where they could not be identified
separately.

"Who are they safeguarding?" asked Ron Reinhart, director of the
Salvation Army's PASS Program in Cleveland. "They don't want
people to know what a poor job they did."

Census takers and advocates in Cleveland spent three days in March
of last year counting people sleeping in shelters, eating at soup kitchens 
and living under bridges and sidewalks as part of the massive national head 
count meant to provide a snapshot of our nation every 10 years.

But even when Census officials release the figures for people living in 
shelters, they won't release the number of people sleeping outside, even 
though the government spent time and tax dollars trying to count them.

"It all goes back to having been burned in 1990 [when the government
was criticized for putting little effort into the count]," said Barbara 
Duffield, director of education for the National Coalition for the Homeless 
in Washington, D.C. "The Census doesn't want to have a
homeless' count."

While they are not breaking out the homeless, the short-form data
being released does break out Americans living on submarines, in
military disciplinary barracks and in migrant workers' housing. The data 
provide details about family and household relations by age, race and 
gender. Ten states and the District of Columbia have been released so far. 
Ohio's data is due out Wednesday.

Counting the homeless is tricky, and homeless advocates said they
were aware of the data's shortcomings. Still, many said it was
important to acknowledge that people are living on the streets and to
provide a count that could be improved upon in 10 years.

Brian Davis, head of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless,
helped count the homeless in 1990, when Census officials tried to do it all 
in one day. He said the 2000 count was much improved, but not
without major problems.

"It's important to have these numbers," Davis said. There are 1,600
[shelter] beds in Cleveland. And all the beds are usually full. You
should get at least 1,600 homeless people."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Cleveland Democrat, yesterday called on the
bureau to release the homeless figures because they are a "moral index
in our society."

At age 11, Kucinich lived in a Dodge with his mother, father and four
younger siblings for four months. His dad was out of work; his mother
was ill.

"We lived in our car around 32nd Street," the congressman recalled.
"In the evenings, we parked overlooking the [LTV] steel mill. I'd watch that 
big sleeve of fire in the sky as I'd go to sleep. It symbolized hope for me 
then.

"We need to know because we need to provide services for these
people," Kucinich said. "It's also an indication of the strength of our 
community and of our economy."

E-mail: jmazzolini@plaind.com Phone: 216-999-4563 E-mail:
ddavis@plaind.com Phone: 216-999-4808

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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