Newark – The Census 2020 NJ Coalition, a broad coalition of over 30 nonprofits across New Jersey dedicated to ensuring an accurate 2020 Census count, applauds the $9 million in state funding for the New Jersey Complete Count Commission proposed in the Legislature's budget.
The Commission, which formed in January 2019, was created with a duty "to develop, recommend, and assist in the administration of a Census outreach strategy to encourage full participation in the 2020 federal decennial Census of population." The $9 million in state funding will help effectuate this plan, which should be unveiled in the Commission's upcoming report due to the Legislature on June 30, 2019.
The need for Census outreach in New Jersey will be substantial. Roughly 22 percent (1.9 million) of New Jersey residents live in hard-to-count areas, including a disproportionate number of Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian residents, as well as children under age five. In addition, the proposed citizenship question may depress turnout from New Jersey's diverse immigrant communities.
The Coalition's membership includes groups focusing on outreach to different hard-to-count populations, such as New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (Black residents and urban areas), Advocates for Children of New Jersey (children under five), Asian American Federation (Asian residents), Latino Action Network Foundation (Hispanic/Latinx residents), League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Make the Road NJ(immigrants), and Wind of the Spirit.
The Coalition thanks the many legislative champions for expanded Census funding, notably Senator NilsaCruz-Perez, Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, who sponsored a budget resolution for $9 million in state funding for Census outreach through the Complete Count Commission, as well as Senate and Assembly leadership for recognizing the importance of this critical issue.
The following are quotes from Coalition members:
Patricia D. Williamson, NJ Counts Project Director at New Jersey Institute for Social Justice:
“We are thrilled the NJ FY2020 Legislative Budget includes the full $9 million request from the Institute and our non-profit partners in the Census 2020 NJ Coalition. Dedicated state funds are critical to support public education, materials development, community outreach, coalition building, and communications necessary to help ensure a complete 2020 Census count.
“In the 2010 Census count, Black people were the second largest racial or ethnic group undercounted. As a result of undercounting, Black communities were denied access to critical resources. Fifty-one percent of African Americans in New Jersey live in hard-to-count areas – that’s one of the highest rates in the country. The “one dollar per resident” allocation in this budget will help us reach these and all of our communities for Census 2020.”
Peter Chen, Policy Counsel at Advocates for Children of New Jersey and Coordinator for the Census 2020 NJ Coalition:
"Robust state funding is needed to ensure that every child is counted in 2020. Children under age five are the most undercounted age group. Nearly 27,000 New Jersey children under age five were missed in 2010 – more than five percent of kids in that age range. Federal programs for kids such as Head Start, Title I schools, Medicaid and children's health insurance, and school lunch and breakfast all rely on Census counts to determine funding levels. The proposed legislative funding for complete count efforts will be welcome support to ensure that Census outreach can include trusted messengers such as child care providers, schools, health care professionals, and community programs that serve these young children and their families."
Howard Shih, Director of Research and Policy at the Asian American Federation:
“Asian Americans have historically been less likely than any other major racial or ethnic group to participate in the Census. We’re hoping to turn that around in 2020. We’re thrilled that New Jersey leaders have chosen to put $9 million towards making sure that all New Jerseyans are counted, and that the Census continues to be the gold standard for data on our communities.”
Jesse Burns, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey:
“An accurate census is a cornerstone of our democracy. We rely on this data as a basis for fair political representation and only have one chance to get it right. We applaud the Legislature for this wise investment in ensuring that everyone is counted.”
Brian Lozano, Lead Organizer, Wind of the Spirit:
“Thank you for recognizing the need for significant additional funding for New Jersey’s Census 2020 campaign. The challenges we face in getting it right require strategies that will address each of our hard-to-count communities—both geographically and demographically. New Jersey has the third highest immigrant population in the country. If we don’t get it right, entire communities may disappear. Some are already invisible. We must find ways to address the erosion of the public trust, unite, and work together to ensure a fair and accurate count for all of our hard-to-count populations, activate our best human potential and capacity for goodness and respect, and engender trust. At Wind of the Spirit, we aim to ensure justice and inclusion for all.”