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2020 Census Begins In-Person Count of People Living in Group Quarters

Release Number CB20-CN.75
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July 1, 2020Group Quarters Enumeration is the U.S. Census Bureau's special set of operations for counting people who live or stay in the estimated 250,000 group quarters facilities, such as correctional facilities for adults, college/university student housing, nursing/skilled nursing facilities, group homes, residential treatment centers, and military barracks. The Census Bureau works directly with group quarters administrators in responding to the 2020 Census on behalf of residents to ensure a complete and accurate census count.

The 2020 Census offers several response options for people living in group living arrangements, including electronic response options where an administrator fills in data for each person who stayed at the facility on April 1, 2020. Group quarter administrators can also mail a paper listing of census response data for each person being served or staying at their respective facility to their respective area census office or have a census taker pick up the paper listing or drop off paper questionnaires to the facility. The Census Bureau strongly encourages group quarters facilities to utilize these available options that do not involve in-person contact.

For facilities that elected an in-person response method, the Census Bureau will conduct in-person interviews to complete their census questionnaire between July 1 and September 3. All census takers have been trained on social distancing protocols, and will be issued Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and will follow local guidelines for their use. This operation was originally scheduled to occur between April 2-June 5 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Census Bureau continues to coordinate with group quarters administrators to assist in counting people living in group quarter facilities, including contacting group quarters facilities between February 3 and March 6 as part of the Group Quarters Advance Contact Operation. Many group quarters began responding on April 2 through an eResponse option. Facilities that have not responded by early August will be visited by a census taker.

About 35 percent of group quarter administrators have responded to the 2020 Census via eResponse or paper listings.

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Counting People Experiencing Homelessness

As part of the Group Quarters Operation, Census Bureau workers will also count people experiencing homelessness between September 22 and September 24. During a process called Service-Based Enumeration, specially trained census takers visit shelters, soup kitchens, mobile food vans and outdoor locations, such as under bridges and overpasses.  

In 2010, census takers counted more than 8 million people at 166,827 group quarters locations across the country and 422,972 people at 18,527 service-based locations.

The Census Bureau continues to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 on 2020 Census operations and follow guidance of federal, state and local health authorities to ensure the safety of our staff and the public.

For more information about the 2020 Census and the Group Quarters Operation, visit 2020census.gov.

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