The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to counting every person in the 2020 Census once, only once, and in the right place. The fundamental reason that the decennial census is conducted is to fulfill the Constitutional requirement (Article I, Section 2) to apportion the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the states. For a fair and equitable apportionment, it is crucial that the Census Bureau counts everyone in the right place during the decennial census.
The residence criteria are used to determine where people should be counted during each decennial census. Specific residence situations are included with the criteria to illustrate how the criteria are applied.
The Census Act of 1790 established the concept of “usual residence” as the main principle in determining where people should be counted, and this concept has been followed in all subsequent censuses. “Usual residence” has been defined as the place where a person lives and sleeps most of the time. This place is not necessarily the same as the person's voting residence or legal residence.
Determining usual residence is straightforward for most people. However, given our nation's wide diversity in types of living arrangements, the concept of usual residence has a variety of applications. Some examples of these living arrangements include people experiencing homelessness, people with a seasonal or second residence, people in group facilities, people in the process of moving, people in hospitals, children in shared custody arrangements, college students, live-in employees, military personnel, and people who live in workers' dormitories.
Every decade, the Census Bureau undertakes a review of the decennial residence criteria and residence situations to ensure that the concept of usual residence is interpreted and applied in the decennial census as intended, and that these interpretations are consistent with the intent of the law, which directs the Census Bureau to enumerate people at their usual residence. This review also serves as an opportunity to identify new or changing living situations resulting from societal change, and to create or revise the residence criteria guidance for those situations.
On May 20, 2015, the Census Bureau requested public comment on the “2010 Census Residence Rule and Residence Situations” through the Federal Register, to determine if changes should be made for the 2020 Census. During the comment period for this May 20, 2015 Federal Register notice, the Census Bureau received 252 comment submission letters or emails that contained 262 total comments. (Some comment submissions included comments or suggestions on more than one residence situation.) In the links below, the Census Bureau is also providing a summary of all comments received, as well as the full text of each comment submission letter or email.
This document summarizes the comments the Census Bureau received in response to the May 20, 2015 Federal Register notice seeking public comment on the Residence Criteria and Situations for the 2020 Census.
This table provides the actual text of each of the comment submissions received in response to the May 20, 2015 Federal Register notice. Personal information has been removed out of respect for commenters' privacy. Some comments include maps, charts or other graphics. The full text of these comments is included in an appendix since the format did not allow for them to be presented in the table.
On June 30, 2016, the Census Bureau requested public comment on the proposed “2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations” through the Federal Register. This publication also includes a summary of comments received in response to the May 20, 2015 Federal Register notice, as well as the Census Bureau’s responses to those comments. During the comment period for this June 30, 2016 Federal Register notice, the Census Bureau received 77,958 comment submission letters or emails that contained 77,995 total comments. (Some comment submissions included comments or suggestions on more than one residence situation. Of the 77,958 comment submissions, 2,958 contained unique content and 75,000 were duplicates.)
On February 8, 2018, the Census Bureau published the final “2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations” through the Federal Register. This publication also included a summary of comments received in response to the June 30, 2016 Federal Register notice, as well as the Census Bureau’s responses to those comments.