MORRIS COUNTY — 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.
- Safety: Census data will be secure. Your data will not be shared. There is no citizenship question on the Census. You will not be asked for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or other very personal data;
- Ease: You can fill out the Census online this year for the first time. You also can easily respond by mail. Also, the Census is available in many languages.
- Importance: The Census count determines how much money the federal government allocates for programs in our state and county, and our representation in Congress.
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.”
- More than 300 federal spending programs rely on data derived from the Census to guide the geographic distribution of funds to states, counties, cities, and households.
- Programs that are vital to Morris County, such as Medicare, assistance to older residents and children, transportation and housing programs, community health and environmental programs, and bridge repairs and replacements, among others, are dependent on federal aid.
- Business and industry use Census data to help determine where to locate their stores and franchises, bringing in new and important jobs.
- Our state’s representation in Congress also is determined by the Census, with 435 seats in the House of Representatives determined by the Census.
- Beginning March 12: Invitations to complete the 2020 Census online will be mailed to residents.
- April 1 is Census Day: When you respond to the Census, you will use this date to inform the Census where you reside.
- Beginning April 18: Paper questionnaires will be sent to non-respondents of the online form.
- May 5: Census enumerators will begin to knock on doors of county households that have not completed a questionnaire.
Have questions about the 2020 Census? Click here.