TOMS RIVER – The 2020 Census is coming, and the county wants to make sure everyone is counted.
The Census serves as a basis for the distribution of more than $675 billion in annual state and federal grants, and the county wants to make sure it gets its fair share.
Ocean County’s portion of this could be used for infrastructure improvements, senior services, public health, education, transportation and Community Development Block Grants. Census counts also help with funding for such programs as the First Time Homebuyer Program, HOME Housing Rehabilitation Program and Tenant-based Rental Assistance.
A Complete Count Committee will be formed this spring, made up of 25-30 people who have close ties to residents, Freeholder Joseph Vicari said.
“A major purpose of the Committee will be to assist the Census Bureau in reaching out to residents that traditionally have had a low response rate in completing a census questionnaire,” Vicari said. “It’s important everyone is counted, every household. Participation is critical, as the results determine Congressional representation and also how federal and state funding is distributed.”
Ocean County has a lot of unique situations, and these have to be taken into account, he said. For example, there are a large number of people who live here but spend winters in warmer states.
“The guiding principal for the Census is ‘usual residence’ which is defined as the place where the person lives and sleeps most of the time,” Vicari said. “So it is important our snowbirds who live in Ocean County most of the year are counted.
“From forming the Complete Count Committee to planning activities that will help to engage all of our citizens to be counted, we take this preparation very seriously,” Vicari said. “It has a long-term effect on our representation on the federal level and also the funds we receive for key programs that provide benefits to our towns and citizens.”