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March 16, 2000

Visiting profs should fill out census forms here

Visiting professors and students at Pitt — regardless of their voting residence, legal residence or permanent residence — who are living in the area on April 1 should fill out the census form that is expected to come to their street address this month.

The census, taken every 10 years since 1790, counts people at their "usual residence," defined as the place where, on April 1, they live and sleep most of the time. Census numbers affect the distribution of federal and state funds for education, job training programs, transportation services and many other local services. Congressional representation also is based on the census count. Confidentiality of individual census data is protected by federal law.

According to Debbie Foster, census coordinator for Pittsburgh's Department of City Planning, even non-U.S. citizens who are residing locally on April 1 need to be counted here. "They are using neighborhood services, they're living in local housing, so they need to be counted on local forms," Foster said. "Citizenship is not a factor in census taking," Foster added, "and forms are available in over 50 languages."

Students living in their parents' homes while attending school, however, are counted on the census forms sent to the parents' address. Anyone who is only traveling through or visiting the area on April 1 should not fill out a local census form.

Census takers will distribute census forms to people living in dormitories. Those living off-campus, where mail is delivered by street name and house number, should receive a census form in the mail, Foster said.

According to information from the U.S. Census Bureau, two types of forms will be mailed out, a short and long form. The short form, which will go to 83 percent of U.S. households, has seven questions per resident: name, sex, age, telephone number, Hispanic origin (none, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, other), race and housing tenure (whether residence is owned or rented). The long form covers 34 subjects, including education level, ancestry, employment, disability status and home heating fuel, and will go to the other 17 percent of homes.

For more information, visit the Census Bureau's web site: or call the Census Office of Pittsburgh at 412/355-3188.

–Peter Hart

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