Beginning on April 1 Cambridge will take the first annual local census of its kind in the state of Massachusetts.
In announcing the census City Manager James L. Sullivan said, "Rather than waiting for the Federal census results, Cambridge will have such data every year." Until now the City's only up-to-date population information had been the police list of City voters. But the police list contains only sparse information about people 25 years or older.
Under the new census, all residents will receive a questionnaire in the mail just prior to April 1. Age, sex, place of employment, and schooling will be collected for every individual.
The questionnaires will be collected by a force of about 75 specially hired and trained census takers who will go from door to door beginning on April 1. Each collector will have full identification in order to insure the privacy of those who fill out the forms.
The privacy of every citizen will be fully protected, Sullivan said. "All individual data will be grouped with those of other persons and reported as facts about, say youth who are 16-18 years of age. In this way no person can be identified," he explained.
More than two thirds of the cost of the census will be paid for with Federal funds under the Cambridge Community Development Program, a two-year project. The CDP was set up to "clarify and qualify the City needs, develop objectives, and to prepare an action program to meet those needs and objectives."
In the past Cambridge has had to base its programs on data that was up to ten years old. Sullivan said that the rapid changes in the City in recent years had made it dangerous to use Federal data to identify Cambridge needs. "Thus the decision was made to initiate a new annual Census to eliminate the information Gap," he said.