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2020 Census Counts at Dorms, Nursing Homes and Prisons Now Eligible for Review

This interactive map provides detailed information about the number of people residing within group facilities, according to the 2020 Census. Census data shows the number and type of facilities, but does not provide facility names or precise locations. Click here to view full screen

A new program designed to correct 2020 Census miscounts of residents at group quarter facilities is now operational.

Heads of eligible government units in Tennessee got notice about the 2020 Post Census Group Quarters Review (PCGQR) which opened on June 6, 2022. It runs through June 30, 2023.

Census Bureau counts at group quarters facilities were one of several decennial enumeration operations disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, COVID-19 related concerns led to GQ closures, access restrictions or residents relocating to other housing units because of concerns related to COVID-19. This created a number of scenarios where a miscount of “usual residents” may have occurred.

group quarter (GQ) is a place where an organization provides housing as well as meals, custodial, medical or other services. It can include non-institutionalized settings, like college housing and military barracks, as well institutional facilities such as correctional centers or nursing homes.

The new program lets city, county and state governments work with GQ operators to provide administrative records showing the number of residents on April 1, 2020.

PCGQR is separate from the 2020 Census challenge program which addresses legal boundaries issues and population counts reported in the wrong census block. So far, two Tennessee cities have submitted documentation contesting an element of their 2020 count. The Bureau published a side-by-side comparison detailing differences between the two programs.

Locating Errors in Group Quarter Counts

Communities should use their expert knowledge of local conditions, group quarter licensure data and contacts with GQ facility operators to identify and document errors.

SDC’s interactive PCGQR map can be used to review the population counts that were recorded at eligible facilities in the 2020 Census. A companion flow chart was also created to help guide communities through the process of identifying potential cases.

Flow chart showing steps to review group quarter counts from the 2020 Census to determine eligibility for PCGQR.

What Communities Should Know About the PCGQR Program

The Census Bureau’s webpage dedicated to the PCGQR program includes a participant guide, submission materials and a list of frequently asked questions.

What types of group quarter facilities are eligible?

Most types of group quarter facilities are eligible for evaluation under the PCGQR program. Facilities maintaining administrative records to produce an April 1, 2020, resident count or roster should be prioritized. These include:

  • Adult correctional facilities
  • Juvenile facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • College or university student housing (on-campus only)
  • Military quarters
  • Shelters for people experiencing homelessness

What is the difference between a group quarter and housing unit?

Most people live in housing units. A group quarter is unique situation where a facility houses multiple unrelated people who may not have privacy and for whom the facility provides a variety of services.

Housing for older populations can be especially confusing. A nursing home or other similar facility where residents are provided skilled care are considered group quarters. On the other hand, assisted living units are a form of “group housing” but are considered housing units. In some cases, senior facilities can include both types as the Census Bureau describes:

Housing units and group quarters may coexist under the same entity or organization and in some situations actually share the same structure. An assisted living facility complex may have a skilled nursing floor or wing that meets the definition of a nursing facility and is, therefore, a group quarters, while the rest of the living quarters in the facility are considered to be housing units.

A complete list of group quarter types enumerated in the 2020 Census is available on the Census Bureau website. The Metropolitan Council (Minneapolis) provides a two-page primer outlining additional differences that help distinguish the two types.

What information is submitted to the Census Bureau?

All participants must complete a response template capturing specific details about the nature of the GQ error. Additional supporting documentation includes a letter from the highest elected official of the governmental unit submitting the case that certifies the requested population change. Additional materials such as letters from GQ administrators or resident rosters could improve the chances for a successful disposition and may be requested by the Bureau.

Who can submit a PCGQR case?

Any county, city or town government within the State of Tennessee—including the state itself—is eligible to submit a PCGQR case for a facility within its jurisdiction.

How are the corrected counts used?

If the 2020 PCGQR process finds discrepancies in 2020 Census population counts for a group quarters facility, approved updates to this count will be provided to the Population Estimates Program. These updates will be incorporated into the next population base that the production schedule allows.

Numerous Census Bureau surveys, such as the American Community Survey, will use estimates developed from the updated population base. These surveys use population estimates as survey controls so that population totals from the survey conform to the updated population estimates.

Will the State of Tennessee accept approved PCGQR cases for inclusion in its Certified Population Report?

The Certified Population Report, produced by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, serves as the basis for the distribution of several revenues to counties and incorporated areas. Typically, decennial census population totals are used for the entire decade except in cases where a community conducts a special census or a successful census challenge occurs.

If a PCGQR case is successfully resolved, a governmental unit may request information from the Census Bureau about the resulting population change for that case after the numbers have been incorporated into the population estimates base. That letter can be submitted to the State of Tennessee and serve as the basis for a certified population adjustment for that community. The Census Bureau will provide more information about how to request the official letter in the near future.