A bit of controversy is brewing in Cincinnati, as city officials are urging the Census Bureau to mail census forms to addresses that the Bureau claims do not exist. The Bureau removed thousands of Cincinnati addresses from its master address file — which should include every housing unit in the United States — but the city says some of those addresses are valid.
After canvassing every neighborhood and allowing local governments to give input, Cincinnati says the Census Bureau took out 12,534 addresses in the city – many of them without explanation. City officials believe at least 3,063 addresses are valid, and want them put back.
“The effort to get an accurate count begins with the address check, with that master list of addresses, making sure that the census has all the information that we as a city have about where people live,” said Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, who heads a census task force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
And according to the newspaper, Cincinnati is far from the only municipality to appeal the Census Bureau’s address list:
Cincinnati’s complaint is one of about 2,200 that have been sent to a special appeals panel – twice as many appeals as were filed a decade ago. Those appeals contain 1.7 million addresses.
The government hasn’t released a list of those appeals, but the Boone County Planning Commission also has appealed 1,458 addresses it says are missing: 337 in Florence, nine in Union and 1,112 in unincorporated Boone County.
Philip N. Fulton, the director of the Census Bureau’s appeals staff, said it’s impossible for his staff of 30 people to review each one of those addresses individually. Instead, his staff looks at whether the city has done a “logical, rigorous analysis.” If so, he said, Cincinnati will get the benefit of the doubt.
“(The appeal process) is an effort by Congress to give communities an opportunity to be heard, and it’s in their favor,” he said. “We go into this with the mentality that this local government has a case, otherwise they wouldn’t put so much work into it.”
Cincinnati’s complaint that addresses were removed without explanation is a common one.
“That’s happening all over the country,” Fulton said. “And that factor is leading to more appeals.”
It’s clear that getting a census form to all addresses is crucial for an accurate count. But wasting forms and time on invalid addresses is a poor use of Census Bureau resources. We’ll keep tabs on the outcomes of address file appeals, so let us know about any in your community.