A coalition led by an independent Louisiana-based group called Moving Forward Gulf Coast sent a letter this week to U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, chairman of a House subcommittee on the census, noting that states receive an average of $12,000 over a decade for each person counted in the census. The figure was based on research by the Brookings Institution.
“Our communities desperately need federal support to rebuild and strengthen our transportation, education, housing, health care and public safety infrastructure,” the letter said.
At issue: whether potentially tens of thousands of displaced storm victims are undercounted next year. Nearly 1 million people were displaced from Mississippi and Louisiana. The groups are suggesting a checkoff box be added for Katrina victims currently living outside the Gulf Coast — or taking another smaller census count in 2011 to assure accuracy.
The letter said Louisiana received $11.6 billion in federal funding for many critical services in fiscal 2007, Mississippi some $5.6 billion and Alabama, $5.9 billion.
“We believe folks who are displaced should be in a position to receive federal dollars that are going to come to their community,” said Trap Bonner, of Moving Forward Gulf Coast in Slidell, La.
Bonner said there’s still no accurate count of the number of Gulf Coast residents who remain displaced.
U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., who lives on the Gulf Coast, said he’ll add his voice to securing a good count.
“There’s a difference between people who move because they want to move and move because their house is destroyed,” Taylor said.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said he doesn’t think there’s much concern about a census undercount in Mississippi, but would monitor developments.