Posted Thursday, March 12th, 2020
Ask Every County Household in All 39 Towns to Fill out the Census
It’s Safe. It’s Easy. It’s important.
The Morris County Board of Freeholders and community representatives from across the county yesterday issued a joint message to urge all county residents, from all communities, nationalities, religions, races, and ethnic groups, to complete the 2020 Census online, on the phone, or on paper forms in the coming weeks.
In kicking off the “Morris County Counts 2020’’ campaign, the freeholders and community leaders stressed the importance of getting a complete and accurate count of Morris County’s population to ensure the county gets its fair share of federal and state aid over the coming decade. It also determines New Jersey’s Congressional representation.
“It is vitally important to make sure we are fully counted, to be sure that Morris County is not shortchanged when it comes to getting federal dollars for key county programs over the coming decade,” said Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.
“If we are not fully counted, it has long-term negative ramifications for the amount of federal aid we will get for housing and childcare programs, education, senior and student meal programs, senior and disabled transportation, road and bridge projects, and schools, among many others,” added Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, also a member of the Complete Count Committee.
Competition for federal dollars is fierce, said the freeholders and the county’s Census Complete Count Committee, headed by County Planning Board Vice Chair Isobel Olcott. The group stressed that federal funding through 2030 will be determined by the upcoming Census count.
Census-guided federal spending on programs in New Jersey is nearly $23 billion annually. About $2.7 billion is directed to Morris County, including $1.8 billion for Social Security benefits paid to county residents, and $600 million from the Department of Defense for programs at Picatinny Arsenal and defense contractors located throughout the county.
The remaining $300 million is distributed to public, private and nonprofit entities in the county. For example, the Morris County Housing Authority received about $9 million annually in federal dollars while the county Office of Community Development gets nearly $3 million annually to distribute for a variety of programs.
The joint message issued today comes as the federal government this week begins inviting New Jersey and Morris County residents to fill out the online version of the Census starting on or about March 12.
For those who don’t use the online method, traditional mailings will be sent to residents later in April, and Census takers in May will knock on doors of residents who have not filled out the Census.
Officials in Morris County, which has an estimated population of 494,228 per the 2018 Census estimate, stressed three key points about the Census: Filling out the Census is safe, easy and important.
Partners in the county’s 2020 Census effort stressed the importance of the Census.
Eva Turbiner, President & CEO of Zufall Health: “We are glad to collaborate with our community partners to make sure everyone in Morris County is counted for the 2020 census. We will facilitate completion of the census at all of our health center sites and assist community members who need it.’’
Dan McGuire, Executive Director of Homeless Solutions: “Too often, our homeless neighbors feel invisible in their communities. By engaging this hard-to-count population, Homeless Solutions can help Morris County obtain the most accurate Census data, which in turn can be used to attract and target vital resources for our most vulnerable persons.
United Way of Northern N.J. CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso: “Ensuring an accurate Census count is especially critical to residents who are in poverty and face financial instability. Despite perceptions that New Jersey is a wealthy state, many families struggle paycheck to paycheck. A complete Census count can help these vulnerable families access vital assistance to afford quality child care, housing, health care and other supports.’’
Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, Executive Director Bob Davison: “Morris County understands that all its residents count, and they are going about the business of ensuring everyone is counted. We are proud to be a part of it.”