PATERSON, NJ - While the first person won’t be counted for well over a year, the City of Paterson’s efforts to make sure every resident is included in Census 2020 are well underway.
Lamenting the fact that previous census tallies, conducted every ten years, have provided what most believe is a less than accurate reflection of Paterson’s population, Mayor Andre Sayegh began talking about next year’s opportunity to get accurate figures on the campaign trail in 2018, and won’t stop he said, “until every resident is counted.”
According to the US Census Bureau, Paterson’s population was 146,199 in 2010, a number that was estimated to have increased slightly to 148,678 in 2017.
“It is essential that we get an accurate count on the 2020 Census so that our residents get the resources we deserve,” Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson previously. Speaking directly to the magic number of 150,000 that would make Paterson a “first class city” by federal government standards Sayegh said that “we believe we are already there, now it’s time to make it official.”
To aide in the effort, the Census Complete Count Committee has been formed and is already developing strategies to encourage an increased rate of response, especially among in traditionally hard to reach immigrant communities. Made up of stakeholders from several local non-profits as well as other community advocates with a variety of backgrounds and expertise, the Committee has been charged with devising and implementing a plan to make sure Paterson truly is counted.
At a meeting on Thursday nearly 30 members of the Committee heard exactly what’s at stake through Census 2020: $25 trillion that will be distributed to communities across the nation through key government programs including those for child health, education, housing, and road construction over 10 years.
Paterson’s Chief of Staff Kathleen Long, reminded those in attendance that who delivers the message about the importance of being counted, and what message is delivered to residents will be the key factors in reaching an accurate count. Referring to extensive research undertaken by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), Long suggested that those answers already exist.
Through polling and focus groups NALEO has found that individuals are most likely to respond to “trusted messengers” such as those that work with children and schools, as well as doctors and the hospital community.
In terms of what message is most likely to move people to respond, according to NALEO, is the fact that census counts have a “tangible impact” on the community.
With April 1, 2019 marking one year before the Census 2020 count officially begins, plans are already underway, Sayegh announced, to host a “Paterson Pep Rally” or series of local events to get residents of all ages, from children straight through to senior citizens motivated to not only participate themselves but also get others to as well.
Also at the meeting was United State Census Regional Director Jeff T. Behler who announced that hundreds of jobs including as field enumerators and office staff will be available to Paterson residents throughout the Census period to help increase response. Information about those jobs can be found here.
Editor's Note: TAPinto Paterson's Editor, Steve Lenox, is a member of the Paterson Census Complete Count Committee.
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