PATERSON, NJ - For nearly a decade Paterson has been adversely impacted by what most decision makers and community leaders believe was an incomplete population count in the last census. 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.

Now, by spending just 10 minutes to answer 10 questions, residents can change that, and ensure that federal dollars for schools, road repairs, emergency response, health services, and more filter down from the federal government to the City of Paterson. In fact, Business Administrator Kathleen Long said previously, $25 trillion will be distributed to communities across the nation over the next decade through key government programs based on population counts.

Unfortunately, Mayor Andre Sayegh announced Wednesday, local response to Census 2020 stands at just 47% and is more than 16 points below New Jersey average. “This is entirely unacceptable and woefully inadequate,” Sayegh said.

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To be sure, like nearly everything else, efforts to garner a complete count have been stymied by stay at home orders and social distancing measures brought on by COVID-19. Instead of hosting rallies and neighborhood events, establishing counting centers in strategic locations throughout the city, or even relying on census takers that now won’t hit the streets until later this summer, Paterson’s efforts are focused solely on self-response via the US Census website.

Enter David Spungen, Founder of the Paterson Census Selfie project, an initiative to harness the strength of social media to encourage participation in the count. “If you want to honor the first responders that have done so much during this crisis, respond to the Cenus,” Spungen said, pointing to just one area in which Paterson has been shortchanged in past years.

While response isn’t nearly what he hoped it would be by now, Spungen isn’t giving up hope, and on Wednesday was with Sayegh to announce the next phase of the campaign, complete with prizes. By uploading their own “census selfie” individuals are not only acting as “census ambassadors,” but entering themselves in a chance to win gift certificates from Fabian 8 Cinema, their new Esports room, or other business across Paterson. 

In addition to Sayegh and Spungen’s efforts to obtain an accurate census count, Passaic County officials are also hard at work to make sure the largest city in their community is not left behind. Included in these efforts, Freeholder John Bartlett told TAPinto Paterson, have been:

 

  • The Passaic County Complete Count Committee held nine Facebook Live events in April-May, a topical and multilingual outreach (English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, and Gujarati) that reached over 30K viewers.  (All 9 videos are available on Passaic County’s Facebook page.)

 

  • A partnership with Bengali TV Channel 52 and the U.S. Census Bureau led to the production of an hour-long Census telethon that was broadcast and webcast across our region. At the same time, the Census Bureau provided 11 Bengali-speaking operators ready to take residents’ Census responses by phone in Bengali. 

 

  • Through Paterson’s Channel 77 public access station, the Passaic County Complete Count Committee has re-broadcast Census videos to Paterson hundreds of times, including their original series of five multi-lingual PSAs and a 10-minute video that walks viewers through every step of completing the Census online at my2020census.gov.  All these videos can also be downloaded and shared from Passaic County’s Census web page at www.passaiccountynj.org/census.

 

  • Provided Census literature to be sent home to families participating in Paterson’s public school lunch programs, and handed out to people who visit Paterson’s COVID19 testing sites.

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