Counting People Experiencing Homeless in NJ in the 2020 Census

Ensuring That All Experiencing Homelessness are Counted and that NJ Receives Necessary Federal Funding to End Homelessness

People experiencing homelessness have likely been undercounted in the census for decades.

Ensuring that people experiencing homelessness are counted accurately in the 2020 Census is critical and there are ways that we can all help ensure that happens.

If the population of people experiencing homelessness is undercounted, we run the risk of negatively impacting how federal funding is state and localities. Many programs that fund efforts to end homelessness are funded based in whole or in part on census derived data. Such programs include Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs, Medicaid, McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers,

Did you know that there are two specific ways that the 2020 Census will count people experiencing homelessness? These two ways are Service-Based Enumeration and Enumeration at Transitionary Locations.

The Service-Based Enumeration (SBE will count people experiencing homelessness at places where they receive services such as shelters, including youth shelters, soup kitchens, and homeless encampments. The SBE will take place over the course of three-day period from March 30 to April 1, 2020. Census takers will use paper census forms and contact interviews on a day or night within the 3 day period.

How can you make sure that your service-based location and outdoor locations in your community that you are aware of in New Jersey are included in the Service-Based Enumeration effort? You should contact the New York Regional Office. The New York Regional Office which is directed by Jeff T. Behler, Regional Director, can be reached by calling 212-584-3400 or 1-800-991-2520 or by email at (As of June 2011, the New York Census Bureau Regional Office now oversees census operations in New Jersey.)

Enumeration at Transitory Locations (ETL) will count people at places such as hotels, motels and campgrounds. How can I make sure that local hotels, motels and campgrounds in my community are identified as ETL locations? This process of identifying ETL locations is taking place now, through Fall 2019. Once a transitory location is identified and verified through the Advance Contact operation, the ETL count will take place from April 9 until May 4, 2020 at the transitory locations using paper census forms.

But what about the people you work with who you know are experiencing homelessness but may not be counted through either Service-Based Enumeration or Enumeration at Transitory Locations. How can people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness living doubled up with friends and families be counted as part of the 2020 Census? The 2020 Census form will include a “probe question” which specifically asks about people staying with them to remind and “nudge” respondents to include them.

The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality has compiled much of the information above and more in Counting People Experiencing Homelessness:  Guide to 2020 Census Information.

You can click here to learn how to become a U.S. Census Bureau partner.

In New Jersey, the State has established a NJ Complete Count Commission. Applications are available for the 2020 Complete Count Nonprofit Grant Program. This grant program is for nonprofit and faith and community-based organizations. Applications are due October 31, 2019. Applications are also available for the 2020 Complete Count County Grant Program and those applications are due on October 1, 2019.

The Census 2020 NJ Coalition is a statewide outreach and awareness campaign to coordinate nonprofit and community-based efforts to ensure an accurate 2020 Census Count for our state. Interested in learning more about efforts to ensure a complete count in your local community, click here for a list of local Complete Count Committees in NJ.