By Mark Hertvik
Residents of the West Side’s Austin neighborhood believe the community was undercounted in 2000, and are working to gain full representation for their neighborhood in the 2010 census. The 2000 census counted 117,527 people living inside the city-defined borders of Austin, representing 4.1 percent of Chicagoans. Community activist Malcolm Crawford says this number is inaccurate, and estimates Austin’s true population to be as much as 20 percent higher because the population is wary of being counted. “[There is] a lack of information, a lack of understanding of what the census is,” said Crawford, whose nonprofit Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center is involved in promoting census awareness in Austin. “A lot of our people are in precarious situations” and don’t like to talk to outsiders or the government, he said.