100 People Attend Census Community Kick-Off
Updated: Feb 25
Event is part of Effort to Engage Hard to Count Populations in the 2020 Census
The Pride Center of New Jersey hosted a Census Community Kick-Off on February 23 at Pino’s Wine Shoppe in Highland Park. The event was an opportunity for the local community to learn about the critical importance of the upcoming 2020 Census, explore local nonprofit organizations, and interact with community members. It was designed to alert the public that every person who resides in the state needs to be counted. More than $23 billion is at stake in federal funds for New Jersey. An under-count will limit less funding for the state and could result in fewer representatives for New Jersey in Congress.
Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler addressed the crowd and reminded everyone about the critical need for everyone to be counted. She estimated that more than $3.5 million was at stake just for Highland Park alone.
June Burton, Partnership Specialist from the U.S. Census Bureau emphasized the need for the LGBTQ community to be respond to the Census as it impacts all of us.
Karen Ford, Director of Communications for the Pride Center stated, “If you are a New Jerseyan you need to be counted. So much of what impacts our daily lives depends on funding from Census data. Schools, roads, emergency services, unemployment insurance, and so much more are based on how we respond tho the Census.”
The event boasted free food, prizes and giveaways for everyone.
In addition to The Pride Center of New Jersey, the following organizations were in attendance:
• CASA of Middlesex County
• Literacy New Jersey
• GLSEN Central Jersey: LGBT Issues in Education
• Moms Demand Action: Grassroots Public Safety Group
• Jewish Family Services
• Karma Cat and Zen Dog
• Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
• League of Women Voters
• Coalition to End Domestic Violence
As mandated by the Constitution, the U.S. Census counts the residents of the United States every ten years. Participating in the Census is everyone’s civic duty, but not everyone responds to it. In 2010, for example, fewer than 60% of New Brunswick residents were counted. There are many hard to count populations that have low response rates and LGBT individuals are considered part of a Hard to Count (HTC) population. Other HTCs include, but are not limited to African Americans, Latinos/Latinx, Asians, Non-Native English speakers, college students, young children, men 18-49, the incarcerated, and the elderly.
Members of HTC communities may be wary of responding to the Census for fear of their immigration status, concern about legal reprisal, or a fear of government in general. However, “By law, your census responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way—not by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), not by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and not by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).” (Census.gov)
The Kick-Off is part of a $50,000 Department of State Grant The Pride Center has been awarded to lead the effort to engage LGBT individuals in Middlesex County and ensure that the community is fully counted in the 2020 Census. The project, entitled LGBT Census T.E.A.M. (Targeted Education and Awareness to Multidimensional-Populations) 2020, is a coordinated, county-wide effort which strives to increase Census participation rates for the LGBT community.