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Housing Cost and Housing Quality Fact Sheet


Differences between the Housing Cost and Housing Quality Estimates from

the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey


November 30, 2004


When fully implemented, the American Community Survey (ACS) will be the largest household survey in the United States. Like the decennial census long form it is designed to replace, the ACS provides housing cost and housing quality estimates for small geographic areas – most cities, counties, and metropolitan areas of 250,000 or more during the testing phase, and, beginning in 2010, the ACS will use multi-year averages to provide estimates for all areas down to census tracts/block groups. Estimates for the nation and states are also available. All ACS estimates are updated annually.


The American Housing Survey (AHS) produces estimates of housing costs and housing quality for the United States, four census regions, and metropolitan areas in odd-numbered years. Estimates for 41 metropolitan areas from the metropolitan area sample are updated every 6 years, with the residents of 13 or 14 metropolitan areas interviewed in even-numbered years. Estimates for 6 metropolitan areas whose residents are interviewed with the national sample are updated every 4 years in odd-numbered years along with national and regional estimates.


This chart summarizes the key differences between the ACS and the AHS:

 

American Community Survey

American Housing Survey

Principal Purpose

Replace decennial census long form by providing annual (or multi-year average) estimates of selected social, economic, and housing characteristics of the population for many geographic areas and subpopulations.


 

Provide a current and ongoing series of data on the size, composition, and state of housing in the United States and changes in the housing stock over time.


Collect housing statistics that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses to evaluate and develop its federal housing programs.

Geography

Nation, states, counties, and places of 65,000 or more and Puerto Rico (beginning in 2005). Eventually, areas as small as census tracts/block groups using multi-year averages.

Nation, regions, and 47 selected metropolitan areas with city and county subareas of at least 100,000 population.

Sample Size

About 800,000 addresses per year during the testing phase (2000-2004); about 3 million addresses per year when fully implemented in 2005. Data are collected from about one-twelfth of the sample each month. 

About 56,000 addresses in each odd-numbered year. The National survey is longitudinal–each sample unit from the basic sample has been visited every other year since 1985.


The AHS-Metropolitan sample is also longitudinal and consists of about 4,500 addresses per metropolitan area, with interviewing of a rotating set of 13 or 14 areas in even-numbered years.

Data Collection Method

Mail and computer-assisted telephone and personal-visit interviews. About half the responses are obtained by mail. In the third month of data collection (the first personal visit), a 1-in-3 subsample of all addresses for which responses have not been obtained are visited by field representatives.


The ACS is a mandatory survey.

Computer-assisted telephone and personal-visit interviews.


The AHS is a voluntary survey.

Residency Status

The ACS includes people at the address where they are at the time of the survey if they have been there or will be there more than two months, whether or not the people have a “usual residence elsewhere.”

The AHS includes people if they consider the unit to be their place of usual residence (where they spend most of the time during the year). If they have more than one home, the interviewer has to determine if the sample unit is their usual residence, that is, where they spend most of their calendar year.

Population Universe

In the testing phase and 2005, the ACS includes the household population. This universe includes both the civilian and military population in households and excludes the group quarters population. The ACS is expected to start including the group quarters populations (that is, the resident population) in 2006. The group quarters population consists of the institutionalized (such as people in correctional institutions or nursing homes) and the noninstitutionalized (most of whom are in college dormitories). The weighting is controlled to population estimates as of July 1 (e.g., July 1, 2003 for the 2003 ACS).

The AHS includes occupied and vacant housing units and all people in housing units. The universe excludes all people in group quarters. The weighting is controlled to independent counts of housing units as of July 1 (e.g., July 1, 2003 for the 2003 AHS-National).




 


 

Time Period Covered

Monthly interviews are conducted and units are classified as of the day they are first contacted; nearly all vacant units in the ACS are not contacted until the third month of data collection.

Interviews were conducted from June to September 2003 for the 2003 AHS-National.


Length and Detail of Questions

Questions are asked about the following:


Housing Costs:


As of date of interview: mortgage payments, rent payments, condominium and other fees, real estate taxes, and premiums for home owners insurance. Also, for mobile homes, installment loan payments, site rent, license and registration fees, and personal property taxes.


For previous month: electricity costs and gas costs.


Average for 12 months prior to interview: other fuel costs, water and sewer costs.




Questions are asked about the following:


Housing Costs:


As of date of interview: mortgage payments, rent payments, condominium fees, and home owner association fees. Also, for manufactured/mobile homes: installment loan payments, site rent, mobile home park fees, utility hookups, and so forth.


For previous year: real estate taxes and premiums for private mortgage insurance. Also, for manufactured/mobile homes: personal property taxes, registration, and license fees.


Average for 12 months prior to interview: electricity costs, gas costs. (For respondents who provide detailed records for electricity and gas: the months of January, April, August, and December. At these units, regression formulas [derived from administrative records] are used to calculate the yearly costs.)


Total for 12 months prior to interview: other fuel costs, water and sewer costs, garbage and trash collection fees, and premiums for home owners and renters insurance.


Total for last two years: capital improvement costs.


Total in typical year: maintenance costs.

Length and Detail of Questions (continued)

Housing Quality:


As of date of interview: the presence of complete kitchen and plumbing facilities, the availability of telephone services, and the number of occupants per room (calculated from information provided by the respondent).

Housing Quality:


As of date of interview: presence of appliances in working order, building and neighborhood conditions, presence of neighborhood amenities, structural deficiencies, and the number of occupants per room (calculated from information provided by respondent).


Within three months prior to interview: problems with the water supply, sewage system, toilets, fuses, and rodents.


Within 12 months prior to interview: interior and exterior water leaks.


During last winter: lack of heating.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Housing |  Last Revised: 2014-05-12T07:59:21.103-04:00