Census 2010 – Brad was here

By Linda Bentley | April 28, 2010

| More

census notice of visitCensus Bureau deems post office box holders personas non grata

CAREFREE – The U.S. Census Bureau mailed out Census 2010 forms last month to people to street addresses across the land.

However, the Census Bureau refuses to send Census forms to a post office box.

Census Bureau workers claim it’s because they need to count the number of people living at each physical address.

Apparently, the Census Bureau has the general population pegged as too stupid to be able to differentiate between where they receive their mail and where they sleep.

And, just because there is mail carrier service to a given street address, it doesn’t mean the mail is actually delivered to that address and, in rural areas, such as Cave Creek, Carefree and unincorporated Maricopa County it isn’t. Mail is delivered instead to cluster boxes in remote locations, which have become notorious targets for thieves, check “washers” and vandals.

Even though there is carrier service to such “street addresses,” there are many people who prefer to receive their mail at a more secure location and rent post office boxes.

A couple of weeks after mailing the first round of Census forms, the Census Bureau, in an effort to gain an additional 7 percent or so to respond, mailed a second round of forms.
Those who opt not to receive their mail at a cluster box location didn’t receive that second mailing either.

Because the majority of Carefree residents receive their mail at a P.O. Box, Census Bureau employees said not to worry because Census workers would be in the field going door to door to obtain their information.

Sure enough, Census workers hit the streets the first week of April during hours when most people are at work.

However, if no one was home, the Census worker left an official “Notice of Visit” Form D-26 stating, “I stopped by today to complete a census interview for your household, but you were not home. Please telephone me to discuss when we can complete this interview – It generally takes about 10 minutes. Otherwise, I’ll stop back in the next day or two.”

In the section that followed, the Census worker was supposed to fill in his name, a telephone number where he could be reached and the best time of day to call.

The form left on my door said to call “Brad,” who left no phone number or any other information.

Brad never stopped by again or, if he did, did so again during working hours and didn’t bother to leave another “Notice of Visit.”

Meanwhile, Cave Creek residents, many of whom receive their mail at a P.O. Box, say they’ve not received their Census forms either, nor a visit from a Census Bureau employee.
Cave Creek Town Manager Usama Abujbarah asked if Sonoran News would publish a phone number for the Census Bureau where people can call to have their survey information taken over the phone.

It’s not as if Sonoran News doesn’t believe what it’s told by town hall officials, we still prefer to verify information before publishing.

So, I called the number (866-872-6868) provided by town hall, which was answered by recording as the “Census Bureau Help Line.”

After going through a couple of voice menu prompts and a brief wait, a young man answered.

I explained who I was and asked if the telephone number I called was where people could call to provide their Census information if they’ve neither received a Census Questionnaire in the mail nor a personal visit by a Census Bureau employee.

He responded, “Hang on while I try to find your appropriate answer.”

He came back from placing me on hold three times stating he was unable to find anyone to give me an “appropriate answer,” and finally said, “It will just have to be your call.”

It seems that it would have been far more efficient for the Census Bureau to do a single mailing to addresses where people actually receive their mail and let them enter the address where they sleep.

So far, Arizona’s response rate to the 2010 Census questionnaire is 66 percent, 2 percent lower than 2000.

Now we know why.