Hidden Housing Units and the Decennial Census

Authors: Shonin Anacker*, U.S. Bureau Of the Census
Topics: Applied Geography
Keywords: Census, housing, addresses
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Oak Alley, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


"Hidden" or informal housing is likely a significant component of the overall housing stock in the United States, but it has been difficult for the Census Bureau to assess how well our address frame update processes capture this phenomenon. Informal units like basement apartments, converted garages, mobile homes placed in back yards might or might not appear in the standard official sources for address lists, namely postal files and local government files. They may or may not be visible to field workers as well. The story of what makes a housing unit "hidden" or "informal" is a complex one, with local legal frameworks, architectural features, and even family relationships playing a role. Individual residents may have different conceptions of the relationship between a household and a housing unit than do government officials, and problems can occur when these conceptions differ. This paper attempts to explore how “hidden units” actually manifest themselves in the world and in Census data collection processes in order to better understand how a population census might best count the people living in these situations.

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