2020 Census: Study Finds Excluded Housing Units in Fresno, San Jose and San Francisco
As the preparations for the 2020 Census unfolds, a report by the Werner-Kohnstamm Family Giving Fund has documented the existence of housing units not included in official Census Master Address Files (MAF). The existence of “unconventional” housing units accounts for as many as 6.3% of housing units in the Fresno Census tracts studied as part of a three city pilot project that also includes San Jose and San Francisco. The exclusion of these units has significant consequences, including a potential loss of federal funding.
The Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC) participated in the pilot Census project, coordinating the work carried out in Fresno.
The March 7, 2018 study authored by Ed Kissam, trustee of the Werner-Kohnstamm Family Giving Fund, describes that unconventional housing units found in the three cities included “converted garages, basements, back of the house add-ons, informally built living quarters and trailers in backyards”.
In Fresno, the project canvassed 23 Census blocks, including a total of 9,602 housing units. It found evidence of 606 newly-found housing units, representing 6.3% of the total number of housing units in those tracts. It is estimated that an average of 3.4 people live in each housing unit in the block group studied.
In San Jose, the study canvassed 33 Census blocks, representing 15,312 housing units. It found 730 new housing units, representing about 4.7% of the total number of housing units. In the San Jose tracts studied, the average number of people per housing unit is 3.8.
In San Francisco, the pilot project canvassed 9 Census blocks, covering 5,346 housing units. It found 214 newly identified housing units, representing an improvement of 4.0% in the number of units. In the blocks studied, there is an average of 3.1 persons per unit.
The pilot project presents valuable recommendations to local level governments, whether in rural areas like the Central Valley, or urban regions, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, about how to improve accuracy of the Census MAF in order to ensure the highest possible 2020 Census participation and representation.
A key and urgent action that can be taken is to participate in the ongoing LUCA (Local Update of Census Addresses) project that is currently underway and that will last until June 2018. The project can allow local governments to carry out activities, such as the canvassing efforts undertaken in this pilot project, in order to identify unconventional housing within their boundaries.
In the Central Valley and the City of Fresno, the undercount by the Census has been a recurring issue, particularly affecting low income and immigrant families.