Census Launches a Pilot Survey to Count Houston’s Diversity

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Rogene Calvert (center) of Outreach Strategists with Census Bureau Regional Specialist Graydon Chiapetta (left) and Partnership Specialist Angeles Ortgea at the media outreach held on January 26.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: Just how important it is to know the make-up of the US population got a head start with the launch of a test program by the United States Census Bureau, starting in Houston in the beginning of April. As part of its American Community Survey of 250,000 households it chooses every month at random, the Bureau will be testing out a new internet response option allowing people to respond in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.

In Houston, the enumeration will be done in the following zip codes on the west side: 77024, 77036, 77040, 77041, 77042, 77043, 77055, 77056, 77057, 77063, 77077, 77079, 77080, 77082 and 77092.

For the past few months the Census Bureau has been sending out its Recruiting Assistants to find members from different communities to fill approximately 500 Field Interviewers positions for the fifteen targeted zip codes in the Houston area. The field staff must live in one of 45 zip codes in Houston for these temporary jobs which will pay from $16.75 to $25.25 per hour plus $0.54 per mile.

One of the Recruiting Assistants is Sarita Mehta, a well-known figure among the Indian community, especially among Hindi lovers as she has participated in several Hindi poetry gatherings in the last few years. Mehta has worked with the Bureau for the past few months to help recruit more interviewers and has set up testing centers in various places in the 45 zip codes. She has been successful in having India House (in 77031) designated as a testing center and just last week was able to arrange for the Sri Govind Guriya Matha Mandir on 16628 Keith Harrow Blvd., in 77084 become another accepted testing center.

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Sarita Mehta is the Recruiting Assistant for the US Census Bureau.

“We would like to have people from all different backgrounds test to become Field Interviewers,” explained Mehta as she quickly set up for a test one Sunday at India House. The tests will be held there every Wednesday and Sunday through the end of March. “Bi-lingual speakers are encouraged to apply, including speakers of Hindi and Urdu,” she added.

Two weeks ago, the Bureau held a media event, organized by long-time community activist Rogene Calvert at her office at Outreach Strategists on Richmond Avenue on Tuesday, January 26 to explain the objectives of the new test run. Regional Specialist Graydon Chiapetta and Partnership Specialist Angeles Ortgea were on hand to explain the use of mobile devices to capture the data, which it expects to use for the next decennial census in 2020. The use of technology is part of the Bureau’s plan to become more accurate while saving money on printing the census forms and mailing them to each household. In 2010, the ACS form cost $96 per household and it is expected to cost much more by 2020.

Those interested in taking the 30-minute test for the Field Interviewer position can contact Sarita Mehta at 1-800-361-6891.