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Villaraigosa calls on L.A. residents to complete census forms

March 18, 2010 | 12:03 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday joined other city leaders to encourage residents to fill out and submit their census forms, saying that the undercount in the last census cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants and assistance.

The mayor said that filling out the forms, which started arriving in mailboxes this week, takes only about 10 minutes, which he demonstrated by filling out his own form before a bank of television news cameras at City Hall.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that every single person is counted," Villaraigosa said. “We know that the most undercounted groups are immigrant groups. The most undercounted communities are communities of color. One of the most undercounted demographic groups are young people, and renters, the homeless."

Controller Wendy Greuel, who joined the mayor along with city council members Tom LaBonge, Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry, said the undercount of Los Angeles residents in the 2000 census cost the city an estimated $206 million in federal funding for government programs.

Any major undercount in California would carry enormous consequences, including the possible loss of a U.S. congressional seat for the first time in state history and the loss of billions of dollars of federal funding for schools and other services.

Congressional seats and more than $300 billion in federal funding for more than 170 programs are apportioned by population, as determined by the census.

-- Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall