Transformed Housing Structures

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

I visited various neighborhoods in Philadelphia yesterday, examining housing situations that cause us problems in listing different units and assuring that each gets a census questionnaire. Some areas were row houses, probably originally intended as single-family homes that had been subdivided into multiple units. Some of the entrances of the secondary units were off the street and not visible to someone walking down the sidewalk.

We know that some such structures have single mailboxes and informal arrangements among residents to sort out the mail for the two or more families. It’s a challenge to make sure each household gets their own questionnaire and that all persons are correctly counted. We have methods to get questionnaires to everyone, but some depend more on the initiative of the household than others.

Our antidote for such situations relies both on the training of our staff and the outreach efforts of partners within those neighborhoods. We need their help.

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5 Responses to Transformed Housing Structures

  1. LL says:

    This is an issue in many cities. I live in Washington, DC and rent a house with a basement apartment. There is just one mailbox for the house, hence only one mailing address for all of us living there…but actually two separate living facilities. How would I go about getting a separate 2010 Census form for the downstairs neighbor? Is there somewhere in DC where she can pick up a form? Thanks!

  2. kev@censusstaff says:

    The Census Bureau did a lot of work during address canvassing in 2009 to try and find these kinds of hidden units, in hopes we can add them and mail to them. However, if a household doesn’t get a form, we will be setting up and advertising the locations of Be Counted centers where people can get a form to be filled out.

  3. zak ryerson says:

    This is a matter which is on of many in the area of co-operation between the U. S. Bureau of the Census and other governmental agencies.
    The term “trnsformed housing structure” is extremely broad.
    It includes any structyer that is being used as housing in 2010 and which was used for another purpose at some time after 1959.
    I live in such a structure. It was originally a seletive Public School.
    The other problem which the Cencus Bureau has is that there are buildings with _More_ mailboxes than housing units.
    I would also point out that i know of at least one letter carrier for The U. S. Postal Service who feels that he is barred by law from informing The U. S. Bureau of the Census that an apartment is probably vacant, there are eight weeks of circulars in that mailbox.

  4. Nicole says:

    Besides Baltimore City, This is also a regular occurrance in Baltimore County, MD, especially around the towns closest to the Colleges and Universities, like Catonsville and Towson. Many of these “transformed housing” residences, are in violation of local Zoning laws, which could cause the Landlord/Owner, not the Tennant, to face fines of over $5,000+. Is there a way that your office is working on ensuring all of the Tennants in these situations will be counted? Thanks for your answer above, but to take this to the other extreme, Will the US Census be able to share this information when requested, either by local Govt, or through FIA, or supeona, to prove that a specific address is a “multi-family” dwelling, or is a “rooming house” with tennants, and not a Single Family Home? will this information be available to see how many “non related” persons live at each address in a particular town?

  5. Nancy says:

    Weird that this question went unanswered. I’m just a crew leader. But from what I’ve read, census data is locked up very, very tight. There is NO WAY it would ever be shared with local authorities trying to enforce local housing regulations. There have been a few abuses in the past, but each time, in response, the Census Bureau has tightened the privacy regulations. If you research “Title 13” or “census privacy” you will find that guarding information about people is the highest priority for the census. The training I got really emphasized that over and over. Census workers can’t discuss people they talk to and can’t show the filled-out forms to anyone who has not taken a sworn oath (seriously!) to protect the privacy of the people they’ve interviewed.

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