ELIZABETH, NJ -  The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless (ECHH) joined the push to get as many residents as possible to fill out the 2020 census by hosting a panel discussion on the importance of getting an accurate count.

The panel, which was also held to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, was moderated by Laura Gaviria, Digital Marketing Manager at Stateside Affairs. Panelists were Lauren Zyriek Enriquez from the Office of the Secretary of State of New Jersey, Olga Armas a member of Make the Road N.J. and Carina Grajales from ECHH.

The discussion was held entirely in Spanish to be accessible to the large population of native Spanish speakers in Elizabeth. Government representation was a major point that the discussion focused on. Enriquez pointed out how the census count each decade affects the political and economic power a community can have. On a federal level the census determines how many representatives a state sends to Congress and how much federal aid money states and municipalities receive. 

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In Elizabeth, residents benefit from programs like the free breakfast and lunch program for all public school students and the New Jersey Medicaid program that receives federal funding. Public schools also use federal money to fund part of their budget.

Other important Elizabeth institutions like the Public Library, the Mayor’s office and City Hall have also taken to social media to remind residents to fill out the 2020 census. The deadline to fill out the census this year has been moved up by one month to September 30. The census is available in more languages this year including Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Arabic.