PATERSON, NJ - During his inaugural address Mayor Andre Sayegh made a vow that now not only would every Paterson resident count under his Administration, but also that they’d be counted.
Indeed, that phrase, in reference to the 2020 Census, was one that he repeated countless times on the campaign trail, and possibly, even more since he’s been in office.
The stakes, including access to trillions of dollars in federal funding, are too great not to get Paterson’s population count right in this year’s once a decade effort, officials have said often.
According to the 2010 Census, Paterson had 146,199 residents, a number that even the most novice of observers feels is woefully inaccurate. Many local leaders believe the number is closer to 175,000 while some have set the mark at closer to 200,000.
Now a confluence of events, the opening of self response on the US Census Bureau’s website, and the onslaught of coronavirus forcing people to stay in their homes, presents a unique opportunity to help increase Paterson’s response rate.
“This public health crisis has shown us more than ever how critical access to hospitals is, the difference school meal programs make in children’s lives, how important emergency response planning truly is,” Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson. “If we want to be prepared for the next decade of challenges we need the funding, and that’s why getting every resident counted in Census 2020 really matters.”
While every household across the nation should have received an invitation to take the census by now, as of Saturday only 8.4 percent of Paterson’s homes have responded, a number that falls well below the statewide average of 15.8 percent and Passaic County’s average of 16 percent.
With a series of census related initiatives that would have been held to help residents respond canceled or postponed until after the coronavirus spread subsides, Sayegh doubled down on his plea to residents to respond on their own.
“For more than 18 months we’ve been building our strategy to increase response rates over 2010’s, and this challenge certainly threw us a curveball, but I am calling an audible,” Sayegh said, mixing sports metaphors. “Whether it’s fighting off this pandemic or getting count, I know Paterson is going to rise to the occasion.”
“Our best days are ahead, so let’s make these days count by getting counted.”
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.