[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — The sputtering economy, spike in home foreclosures, and crackdown on undocumented immigrants could pose significant hurdles for officials working to get an accurate count of Phoenix residents for the 2010 census. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state funding, disbursed to cities based on official decennial population figures. “There are a lot of concerns that we have,” said Tammy Perkins, who is coordinating Phoenix’s census efforts. “Every person we miss costs the city $400 a year. If we miss a family of four, that’s $1,600 a year for 10 years.”
Census figures released this year revealed that the number of immigrants living in Arizona in 2008 had fallen by about 60,000, to 932,518, likely a result of the economic recession and construction slowdown. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Valley home sales last month involved foreclosures, making it harder to track former homeowners who are now staying with friends, in hotels or living on the streets.
Hispanic leaders have said that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s raids and crime sweeps have forced some immigrants to move out of state or back to their home country, while fostering a distrust of government among those who’ve stayed. “There is a lot of fear in the Hispanic community. I think we will have a really hard time getting Hispanics to open the doors and return their census forms,” said the Rev. Eve Nunez, a community leader who is heading a Phoenix census committee focused on the faith-based community. “We are trying to dispel that fear by telling them how much this will mean to their community.” [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix steps up efforts for accurate census count.]