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The 2010 Census could help address one of the thorniest problems in dealing with San Francisco’s long-standing homeless problem — getting an accurate head count.
The city’s homeless figures have ranged between about 6,500 and 8,600 people in the last decade, but the real number is anybody’s guess. The sketchy knowledge of who is living on the street has been a big impediment to perennial attempts to solve the crisis.
Temporary census workers will spend three days at the end of March interviewing homeless people at their usual gathering places, including shelters, soup kitchens, parks and highway underpasses. The census workers will ask questions similar to those asked of people who do not reply to questionnaires delivered to households.
The U.S. Census Bureau kicked off its regional tour at San Francisco City Hall last month. Photo by Monica Jensen/SF Public Press.
Speakers at the Census 2010 kickoff event held on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. It was part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness around the census. According to Supervisor David Chui, San Francisco lost out on approximately $300 million because of an undercount. Photo by Monica Jensen/SF Public Press.
T.J. Johnston is a San Francisco-based journalist. He has been published in Newsdesk.org; Street Sheet; Street Spirit; Poor Magazine; Race, Poverty & the Environment; and Now Public, among other publications and Web sites.
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