HACKENSACK, N.J. — With another decade behind us, a new one will soon begin, and with it, the arrival of the United States Census 2020. In just five months, the census — offered once every 10 years per a federal mandate — is a pertinent event in our nation’s history. One Hackensack woman is working tirelessly to call upon all of her fellow Bergen County residents to fill it out and make their presence count.
“As we’re facing the Census 2020, all of us need to be thinking very strategically about how everyone gets counted and know how to fill out the census,” said Lynne Algrant, chief operating officer of Bergen Volunteers, a Hackensack nonprofit that works to strengthen the community by encouraging individuals to be civically active.
The census, which will take place next year on April 1, will mark the 24th time the United States has counted its population since the late 18th Century. The census is a brief questionnaire that residents typically fill out by phone or snail mail. This year, it is being offered for the first time online. The census, which is essentially an account of each person in a household, provides important data that business owners, teachers, and lawmakers apply to provide daily services and support for communities. Each year, billions of dollars in federal funding go in support of hospitals, schools and other resources based on the data. A complete count is crucial, as the results affect community funding and congressional representation.
The results determine the number of seats each of the 50 states will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and are used to draw state legislative and congressional districts. Following the 2010 Census, New Jersey lost a seat in the House of Representatives, which reduced the congressional delegation from 13 to 12. This, Algrant explained, meant the loss of federal funding opportunities for New Jersey (whose population is currently 8.9 million). These funds, she said, could have gone to much-needed infrastructure improvements and transportation needs, which Bergen County could benefit from.
Algrant added that the percentage of households that return the census must be at least 75 percent. She’s urging a large community such as Hackensack, which had a little over 43,000 residents per the 2010 Census, to be wholly accounted for, as she believes the city is one of the most difficult communities to count.
“In 2010, Hackensack had a 69 percent self-reporting rate in the nation,” said Algrant. “The likelihood that people weren’t counted is pretty high.”
Complete cooperation in the upcoming census throughout the county is critical for Bergen County’s future, she said.
“Bergen County sends more tax dollars to Trenton than comes back to Bergen County,” she said. “New Jersey sends more tax dollars to Washington than comes back to New Jersey. Our federal taxes are subsidizing other states, and if we want to change that, then we have to make sure everyone is counted.”
For more on the Census 2020, go to Census2020.org. To inquire about becoming a volunteer to help spread the word, go to bergenvolunteers.org.