Complete Count Committees and Ensuring the Most Accurate Possible Count in Your Community

Let’s Ensure Federal Programs Ending Homelessness and Helping All Those in Need in NJ Receive Their Fair Share

Arm In Arm is coordinating efforts in Trenton to get the most complete possible Census 2020 count of in the city.

Calder Burgam, Arm in Arm’s Community Engagement Coordinator shared what he and partners are doing to help get a completed Census count. Trenton’s complete count committee is made of seventeen diverse organizations that all serve populations with potential barriers to responding to the census. Their clients may face language barriers, the lack of access to technology and/or have a fear of the government.

The Census offers two opportunities for the complete count committee to help their clients. First, the committee plans to provide “kiosks” at their agencies that clients can use to apply for jobs with the Census. These jobs are flexible, part-time and an opportunity to engage people in the neighborhoods their agencies serve engaged in Census 2020.

The other opportunity is to provide the most accurate numbers possible to ensure that New Jersey receives a fair, equitable distribution of the federal assistance to the efforts to end homelessness and hunger in New Jersey.

The George Washington University’s GW Institute of Public Policy’s Counting for Dollars 2020 project has data to help make the case for important role of the Census. In Fiscal Year 2016, New Jersey has received annually almost $23 billion in federal funds. Just a few examples of federal programs that will be impacted by the 2020 Census include domestic financial assistance programs and tax credit programs.

In 2016, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program received $740,745,000, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) received over $1.2 billion, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program received $404,034,823. Federal tax expenditures for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in NJ were almost $241,000.

In order to get a complete Census count, communities, partners and complete count committees should plan early to get everyone on the same page and get the necessary resources in place. But it is also never too late to get started with a complete count effort. No effort is too little and local census partnership specialists are available to help you get started.

The complete county committee in Trenton will make its first big push in January 2020 to educate the public in advance of Census Bureau postcards going out to every household in March.

In Trenton, the city has made a complete count a priority and foundations are sharing their financial resources to support this effort. The seventeen groups that are part of the complete count committee have a clear understanding of how Census data affects their work.

An added benefit to organizing a complete count committee is that, in Trenton, it has been a great way to strengthen the social services network in the city. For example, through connections made in the committee, Arm In Arm has been able to expand the reach of its mobile food pantry, which was established to meet nutritional needs in the community.

Do you have questions about how to organize a Census complete count committee in your community? You can email Calder Burgam with your questions about how to get started.