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The Miami Herald

Broward Hispanics Surveyed; Hispanic Unity Of Florida Is Putting Together The First Ever Profile Of Broward's Hispanic Population With A Survey That Addresses A Wide Variety Of Issues


March 16, 2004
Copyright ©2004 The Miami Herald. All rights reserved.

Broward's Hispanic population has grown by a whopping 151 percent since the 1990s, but there is still much to learn about this diverse group of people.

Though the Census has counted Broward's Hispanics, no study has ever discussed the economic, social and ethnic characteristics of those living here who hail from Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and other Spanish-speaking countries.

A survey that Hispanic Unity is circulating seeks to change that.

The nonprofit social services group is attempting to define Broward's 340,000-plus Hispanic population.

''This will help us map out and pinpoint exactly where they are, who they are, and what they need,'' said newly elected Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo, a board member of the group.

The survey, available in English and Spanish, asks 46 questions about topics ranging from income and educational level to immigration status and even recycling.

''The questions are varied and blunt because it is the only way to identify what the real needs and issues are,'' said Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, who is involved in Hispanic Unity's efforts.

Castillo, a Cuban native, said ''culturally competent'' programs in Broward are lacking for Hispanics, particularly the elderly.

Wasserman-Rubin, who is Cuban, agreed that not enough is known about Broward's Hispanic population.

''We don't have a complete profile. There are things that are only assumed about Hispanics in Broward,'' she said.

One of the assumptions, Castillo said, is that older Hispanics speak little or no English.

'That's why we ask, `How old are you?' followed by, 'How well do you think you speak English?' '' he explained.

While the population growth in Miami-Dade is mostly due to immigration from other countries, according to Census data, as much as 60 percent of Broward's Hispanic growth is from other U.S. cities and states.

This suggests that many of Broward's Hispanics already have a firm grasp of English.

So far, Hispanic Unity has gotten back about 400 surveys that it distributed mostly in hospitals, nonprofit organizations and the county's Health and Human Services Division.

The survey still requires about 800 more responses to be considered a fair statistical representation, Castillo said.

Florida Atlantic University and research consultant Jorge Zumaeta will tabulate and analyze the data.

Hispanic Unity has set a deadline for a full report at the end of May.

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