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Queens response in census coming up short

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Fewer than half of the households in most Queens neighborhoods have returned their U.S. Census forms so far, fueling growing fears among politicians and minority groups that the borough will be severely undercounted.

The 2000 census count has been touted by Census Bureau officials and politicians for months. Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the decennial head count of all residents as of April 1 is used in myriad government functions, such as deciding how many seats in Congress each state gets and allocating federal funds for schools and other services.

The deadline for returning the forms is Friday.

In Queens, the return rate for census forms this week was hovering near 45 percent, lower than the citywide rate of 50 percent, said Lester Anthony Farthing, the Census Bureau

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