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The Census Geocoder - Group Quarters Assistance

August 10, 2021
By James Whitehorne, Chief, Census Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

People living in group quarters, such as nursing homes, military barracks, and college/university student housing, are among the unique populations counted in the 2020 Census. In the upcoming 2020 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File, we’ll see the first counts of this population group.

Group quarters populations are counted using the 2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations residency rules, which state that we count people where they were living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020. The Residence Criteria also state that people who stay in certain types of group quarters are counted where the facility is located.

Some states, however, have laws that require them to move certain group quarters populations elsewhere when they redraw their state’s legislative boundaries. To help states work with our group quarters population counts, we have made the Census Geocoder available to assist states with “moving” their group quarters population to an alternate address for the purpose of redistricting. We are also providing a channel for states working on state-level redistricting to provide larger address lists than the web-based Census Geocoder allows.

The Census Geocoder provides the ability to: 

  • Identify and verify the locations of group quarters to assign geographic identifiers to a group quarters address list. 
  • Identify the locations of individual addresses and assign geographic identifiers to those addresses. 
  • Use the group quarters address list, the individual address list, user-defined unique identifiers, and the returned geographic identifiers to create tabulation adjustment tables. 
  • And by extension through data sources and the geocoder output, link user-supplied race, ethnicity and age data associated with each record and the tabulation adjustment table through user defined unique identifiers.  

This tool may help some states make decisions about where and whether to include individuals living in group quarters when redrawing district boundaries.

States can determine which group quarters populations they wish to reallocate (in accordance with their state laws) by using the geocoding service and the redistricting data. Specifically, states can use the table “P5 – Group Quarters Population by Major Group Quarters Type” with the 2020 Census geographic data pulled from the geocoder.

More information on geocoding assistance is available on the Census Bureau’s Group Quarters Assistance - The Census Geocoder webpage.

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