My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Fact-Checking Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves: Are assisted living facilities group quarters?

Yesterday, a reader pointed out to me an inconsistency from the transcript of Dr. Robert M. Groves’ most recent press conference. Dr. Groves said, “And then finally group quarters, another category of folks who don’t receive forms in the mail. These are areas that are like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, prisons, dormitories, barracks, and so on.” The reader suggested that assisted living facilities are not considered group quarters, and each resident receives and completes his/her own census forms.

This is actually a complex issue that is not black and white. A Census Bureau official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “If a nursing home has independent or assisted living units then those are considered housing units and they will receive a census form in the mail. The units associated with the skilled nursing unit or nursing unit are group quarters and will be enumerated during the operation Groves speaks about.” So, in short, those people in independent housing units will receive their own forms, and thus, Groves inaccurately characterized the status of assisted living facilities at his press conference.

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4 Responses to “Fact-Checking Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves: Are assisted living facilities group quarters?”

  1. Mick Says:

    If assisted living facilities are not group quarters, the press conference was not the first time Dr. Groves made that mistake. This is from the February 9th, 2010 entry in his blog: “The Census Bureau has for some time classified living quarters for large numbers of unrelated individuals as ‘group quarters.’ These include dormitories, prisons, assisted living facilities, military barracks, and group homes for those with physical or mental disabilities.” The Director’s Blog: Group Quarters,

    I’m not surprised that different people at the Census Bureau have a different idea about what the residence rules do or do not say.

  2. Rhonda Says:

    As someone who is finishing up GQ operations, I can tell you that some Assisted Living Quarters could be GQs, although I do suspect that Groves doesn’t understand the difference.

    If those living in assisted living received their mail by a mailing address rather than by name, they received the forms in the mail. But some facilities have all mail come to the same address and then deliver it my name. In that case, since delivery cannot be guaranteed, those assisted living centers were enumerated as GQs. This was a rare, but not unheard of case.

  3. The 2010 'Senseless' Says:

    I’m currently living in public housing where the rent is partially subsidized by a combination of local agencies, city government, and HUD. (Ironically, I used to work for that very city government. Thanks a lot, Wall Street. But I digress.)

    I received the “The Census is Coming!!” letter, as well as the reminder post cards- but no actual census form. On the evening of 4-14-10, a census representative dropped off Group Quarters forms, saying he would be back on 4-16 to retrieve them. The envelopes accompanying these forms are not USPS envelopes- they needed to be returned to the management office.

    Side note: with all the money the gov’t wasted on census propaganda telling us to mail the forms back NOW, why did this guy wait until late on 4-14 (~6pm) to drop off census forms?

    Group Quarters? Really? This building has about three dozen apartments, ranging from tiny efficiencies to two-bedroom units for families with children. These are private-entry units with bathrooms and kitchens, and we all receive our own mail in a shiny row of individual, locked mail boxes (my phone and other bills are in my own name and surely have no trouble reaching me each month!)

    Why is this non-assisted-living, private residence building classified as Group Quarters? Why send all of that wasteful paper to our mailboxes if we weren’t going to receive a census form by mail? And if they considered the addresses as units eligible to receive those wasteful mailings- why were the actual forms not delivered in the same way?

    It makes no sense. If they’d have mailed the actual census forms a month ago instead of those infernal reminders, we’d have returned them weeks ago. All that money spent on GPS tagging and advertising, and this is the best they can do?

  4. TR Says:

    2010, the answer is that whoever was doing the field work misclassified your residence as a group quarters. Sounds like it’s not a global issue. Could be a training issue.

    Also group quarters enumeration is separate from the mailback timeline.