Lakewood Striving To Move From HTC To BTC In The Coming Census

census 2010Deputy Mayor Menashe Miller, chairman of the 2010 Complete Count Committee,  is almost certain that Lakewood Township will be dropping its former designation as Hard to Count (HTC) in 2000 U.S. Census and will be known in the future as “Best to Count” (BTC) in the 2010 Census this April 1. The Complete Count Committee made up of representatives from private and public schools, churches of every denomination, synagogues, senior citizen communities, and agencies that benefit Lakewood residents, among others, has been meeting regularly this year to ensure that ALL Lakewood residents, citizens or not, homeless or not, are counted in order to get a fair share of federal funding and keep the Township’s voice in the House of Representatives, both of which are determined by the population.  
                Deputy Mayor Miller says, “We can’t stress enough how important the 2010 Census is for Lakewood.  Some groups are afraid of being counted because they are not citizens.  It doesn’t matter if you are not a citizen.  The data is confidential and cannot be used against you.  That’s the law!”
                Some people don’t want to be counted because they feel they don’t have a voice anyway. “Refusing to be counted is not the way to help yourself, others, or your situation.  Not being counted will cause more harm because a reduction of federal funding will mean that less services can be offered to those who need it most,” says Miller.  Funding for schools, transportation, and hospitals are at stake, among other benefits.
                People who will not physically be in Lakewood during the 2010 Census are being wooed by the places they will be visiting in order to grab the money Lakewood should be receiving. “For instance, if you are in Florida during the Census,” says Senator Robert W. Singer, “you should still list Lakewood as your primary residence. Ocean County definitely suffered the consequences of being undercounted in the last Census.”
                Betty Rod, the U.S. Bureau partnership specialist who has been working closely with Lakewood’s Complete Count Committee, reminds everyone that wherever a person resides for six months and one day, that is the place he or she should list as one’s residence.                Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari remarked, “In the 2000 Census, Florida was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get people who only live there a few weeks or months out of the year” to  list Florida as the stated residence.  “They got to keep that (federal) money for the last 10 years.” 
                Dr. A. Das, a partnership specialist for the Philadelphia region, recently met with Lakewood’s Complete County Committee to assure committee members that his offices will do everything to support Lakewood’s Herculean efforts to count everyone.
                Lakewood officials are establishing Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) and Be Counted locations to assist people, answer their questions, and help them fill out the required forms.  In addition, school children will be receiving coloring books and materials that will explain the importance of being counted in the 2010 U.S. Census.
                Expect to receive revised and shortened forms from the Census Bureau the beginning of March.  For further questions, contact Betty Rod, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Philadelphia region, at 732-670-1677.

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