While COVID-19 may have put everything on hold for a while, the 2020 Census continues despite the pandemic.
Across Hudson County, municipalities have been urging residents to complete the 2020 Census form. The Census is important in determining many things, most importantly federal funding for the next decade.
In Bayonne, Mayor James Davis has been calling on residents to respond to the Census throughout the year.
“Billions of dollars in federal benefits will be allocated for the next ten years based on the information provided by Census 2020,” Davis said. “Numerous federal programs increase the amount of aid that they provide to a community if its official population increases. We want to be one of those communities.”
Bayonne boom impacting 2020 Census?
During the past six years, Bayonne has been the site of significant new housing construction. Mayor Davis noted that many new people have moved to the community.
“I welcome all of our new residents, and urge all of you to be counted in Census 2020,” Mayor Davis continued.
Davis said it takes only about ten minutes to fill out a census form and there are no questions about citizenship.
“We invite all residents to be counted, regardless of your citizenship status,” Davis said. “If you live in Bayonne, you are one of us, and we want you to be counted, regardless of gender, race, color, creed, national origin, age, or orientation.”
Mayor Davis also asked residents to be sure to include any children who live with them on their census form. The census counts all people, adults and children. Davis has been urging residents to respond to the 2020 Census, as the response rate compared to a decade ago has dropped significantly.
“As I write this, just over half of our Bayonne residents have been counted in Census 2020,” Davis said. “In Census 2010, more than 60 percent of our residents sent in their census forms. Let’s try to match and exceed that number this year.”
Currently, Bayonne has a response rate of 53.4 percent, with an internet response rate of 45.5 percvent.
If residents do not want census employees knocking on their door, Mayor Davis said that residents should make sure they are counted as soon as possible. Any house or apartment that does not respond to the census on its own will be visited by census workers later this year.
“Thank you all for helping our community by being counted in Census 2020,” Davis said. “We all count. Let’s all be counted. Let’s do it today. The City of Bayonne needs you and thanks you.”
Jersey City’s census response rate is currently 48.3 percent. Historically, Jersey City is typically under counted, but the city is attempting to improve on this in several ways, according to city spokesperson Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.
“From offering multi-lingual support to filling out forms at testing sites, we formed our Census team early on knowing Jersey City is traditionally significantly under counted, and they’ve been working tirelessly to boost responses and reach our hard-to-count communities through service providers and community groups,” said the spokesperson.
She said this year the city’s response rate is low despite the city’s efforts so far, due to a number of new challenges.
“The response rate is low due to this being the first time for online or phone response, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and level of misinformation surrounding the Census,” noting that the Census Bureau has had funding cuts and not all residents in Jersey City have access to the internet.
COVID-19 has prevented municipalities and the United States Census Bureau from in-person data- collecting techniques, such as going door-to-door to count people who have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. And while the bureau has extended the self-response deadline until October, that may not be enough, according to the Jersey City Council, which adopted a resolution in May requesting an additional 120 day deadline extension.
“The Census is so critical because it determines our government representation, federal assistance for various health services our residents rely on, and public safety measures that keep our community safe,” said Wallace-Scalcione.
Hoboken’s response rate surpasses 50 percent
So far, Hoboken’s census response rate is at 62.4 percent, just 0.2 over the state’s total response rate. This is a significant increase. On National Census Day, April 1, only 39.7 percent of Hoboken households had responded to the census.
According to city spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri the city continues to encourage residents to fill out the census and has been meeting regularly with the city’s census task force to facilitate participation.
“The census will help determine funding sources that will be critical for the city, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chaudhuri.
In 2010, Hoboken passed the critical threshold of having 50,000 residents through the Census by five people. This resulted in tens of thousands of dollars for Hoboken and local nonprofits over the past ten years.
“Now, more than ever, it’s so important for Hoboken residents to fill out the 2020 Census,” said Mayor Bhalla in April. “Hoboken will be asking for its fair share of funding from the state and federal government to help with the COVID-19 crisis, and the population determined by the census will have a major impact in determining what we receive. This is an easy way for residents to help our city while self-isolating from home, and I encourage everyone to complete the questionnaire as soon as possible.”
Mayor Bhalla urged residents to fill out the census, which only takes five minutes and “is easy to do while self-isolated at home.”
He reminded residents that if they threw out the mail with their census code, that they can still participate by visiting http://my2020census.gov and filling out the census questionnaire.
Prizes for completing the Census?
In North Bergen, Mayor Nicholas Sacco is hoping to promote a high response rate by providing residents with an incentive for completing the 2020 Census.
North Bergen currently has a 52.9 percent response rate.
“Please take a moment while you are home to complete your census online or by phone. Shape our future. Easy, Fast, Safe, Important, 100% confidential,” Sacco said. “It is even more important now then ever before to make sure our town, county, and state get counted during this public health crisis.”
Residents who have completed the 2020 Census are entered into a drawing for a $500 prize. And while the first prize was given out, it’s not over yet. The first round was so popular that the library has decided to run a second drawing.
All residents now have a chance to win valuable prizes, including another $500 gift card. The second drawing will take place when the 2020 Census closes later this year.
The township is also encouraging residents to enter the drawing sooner than later, because this time there will be lots of other prizes given out over the coming weeks to randomly selected winners.
“Every person counted equates to local, county, and state federal funding,” Sacco said. “I can’t stress the importance enough!”
Once completed send your confirmation number or a screenshot to firstname.lastname@example.org you can be eligible to win a $500 gift card or other great prizes sponsored by the North Bergen Free Public Library.
North Hudson keeping up
In North Hudson, other municipalities are roughly keeping within the same range.
In Secaucus, there is a 60.8 percent response to the 2020 Census, followed by Guttenberg at 53.9 percent, West New York with 53.7 percent, Weehawken with 52.8 percent and Union City with a 50.3 response rate to the 2020 Census.
Overall, Hoboken leads the pack at 62.4 percent, followed by Bayonne and North Bergen in the middle tier, with Jersey City in dead last place.
Throughout most municipalities, online response rate seems to make up most of the Census response in what appears to be a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com and Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.