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Some Reasons You’re Not Yet Receiving Your Census Form

Wed Apr 07 2010
Director Robert Groves
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We’re receiving calls on the 866-872-6868 toll-free line from folks who haven’t received a 2010 census form yet. There are various reasons that can explain why this occurred. Each of them explain small numbers of cases; if this affects you, you can read these below to see how we’re following up on such cases.

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You live in an Update/Enumerate area. For about 1.5 million addresses in remote areas, many American Indian reservations, Texas Colonias, and areas with high concentrations of seasonally vacant housing units, we send census workers to these areas to collect the information in person. This operation only began on March 22, and will continue through the end of May.

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Your form is undeliverable. Some of the forms we provide to the United States Postal Service for delivery are returned by them as undeliverable. As of April 3, we had received 12.9 million of these from USPS. Many of these are for vacant housing units, but some will be situations where we had an address error in our file, or the address we have is not actually used for mail delivery. We will visit each undeliverable address during our nonresponse follow-up operation (May 1 – July 10) to collect census information in person or to determine the unit is vacant or non-residential.

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You live in an area of new construction. In the spring of 2009, we hired approximately 150,000 people to canvass the ground and update our nationwide master address file. Since the completion of that operation, new homes have been built. We obtained information about such addresses from both the USPS and local governments, but most of these addresses were added to our file too late to include them in the initial mailout or hand delivery of questionnaires. Addresses sent to us by USPS will receive a form during a late mailout that is happening now. Address information sent to us by local governments will be visited during a later operation to make sure we count them and any occupants.

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Your addresses had a late code addition for its geographical location. For some of the addresses in our file, we were unable to assign them to a specific geographic block by the time we needed to begin printing and labeling questionnaires. We have since been able to complete this work for many of these cases (about 500,000 addresses) and began mailing questionnaires this week.

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Your address is included in the “update review” process. As part of our address list development efforts, local, tribal, and state governments had an opportunity to review our address file and tell us about missing or mis-geocoded addresses. Some addresses have been the focus of an appeals process, and will be included in a late questionnaire mailing going on in the first weeks of April or visited during a later operation.

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You have a post office box in a mailout/mailback area. We don’t send census forms to P.O. boxes. The census is all about counting people where they live and sleep, so we must tie each form to a physical location. P.O. boxes are not tied to specific housing units, so we can’t use them to send the forms to specific housing units. One of our census workers will visit houses that rely on P.O. boxes between May 1 and July 10.

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Your address is incomplete in our file. We have some address listings on our file that are incomplete, and to which we cannot mail a form: an address with only a street name, or with only a location description. In most cases, we assigned these addresses to a specific location (either with GPS coordinates or a map spot) during the Address Canvassing operation in the Summer of 2009, so we will be able to visit them during the nonresponse follow-up operation (May 1 – July 10).

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Your form was misdelivered. It is possible that some of the forms were delivered to the wrong address by either the post office or census workers conducting hand delivery. If these addresses are in an area with historically low mail response rates, they will be included in the blanket replacement mailing that took place the first week of April. If they don’t receive a form at all, we still have the address and location on file, and we’ll visit during our nonresponse follow-up operation to collect census information in person (May 1 – July 10).

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You live in “group quarters.” Many people live in what we term “group quarters” — college dormitories, military barracks, prisons and jails, most nursing homes, juvenile institutions, and other similar facilities. We do not mail questionnaires to residents of group quarters. Instead, residents are counted during a separate operation where census workers visit the location to distribute and then collect completed forms. There are about 270,000 group quarters facilities to be enumerated in the 2010 Census (between April 1 and May 21).

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Your housing unit is miscoded as group quarters. Although most group quarters are fairly easy to identify, we sometimes mis-classify multi-unit buildings as group quarters when they really should have been coded as housing units. Because these units are in the group quarters inventory, they won’t have a form delivered in the mail. However, they will be enumerated during the group quarters operation – April 1 through May 21.

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We missed your address in our canvassing operation. There may be some units that we completely missed in our canvassing in summer of 2009. If that is the case, we may not be planning any follow-up activity. In this case, we ask that you wait until April 12 and then obtain a “be counted” form from a Be Counted site in your area or call 866-872-6868 for assistance.

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Indeed, if you don’t yet have a form, you may not know for sure which of the groups above you may fit into. If you believe you won’t be counted, then beginning on April 12 you can call 1‐866‐872‐6868 and we will either take your information over the phone or send you a form by mail [UPDATE: Forms no longer available]. If you prefer, you can also obtain a form from a Be Counted or Questionnaire Assistance Center site from now through April 19. Locations of these sites can be found on our Web site.

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