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Foreclosures could complicate 2010 census

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U.S. Census officials haven’t begun to tally how many people live in this country. But they have summed up one potential problem: the number of mortgage foreclosures is so high it could complicate next year’s count. More on the story from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.

The once-a-decade census collects information in many ways. Two of the most common, a questionnaire by mail and door-to-door visits, may require more time, effort, and money than usual next year. That’s because many people have lost their homes to foreclosure, and they won’t be easy to find.

During a visit to Los Angeles, the Census Bureau’s director predicted that many of the mailings will go to empty homes, especially in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. The Mortgage Bankers Association estimated that 13 percent of homeowners across the country are behind on mortgage payments or at risk of foreclosure because of job losses.

For that reason, Census officials say they’ll concentrate on locating people who’ve become homeless amid the economic recession. The count doesn’t just tabulate the population; many government functions base their spending on census data, so an accurate tally equals more money for public programs and services.