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Sometimes an undetected new building is the cause of such discrepancies, but often it is an existing building used differently. Three electric meters or four doorbells in a two-family house may indicate that it has more than two families. If local government canvassers can document these discrepancies, they may suggest adding the address to the master list or changing the address to reflect the presence of additional housing units.

This is important for counting the unauthorized immigrant population, especially in a city like New York, where many newcomers live in makeshift illegal apartments, and where neither dwellings nor occupants will appear in other places. administrative records.

Once on the list, these units receive a census form. If there is no response, a census field worker attempts to collect the information in person. If there is still no response, the enumerator attempts to collect information from an agent, such as a landlord or neighbor. If this fails and census staff believe the address is valid and occupied, a count is imputed to the household based on the characteristics of neighboring housing units for which good information has been obtained.

Once an address is part of the primary address file and there is a sign of occupancy, it will be assigned a population whether someone returns the form or not. The answer may not be as precise as if a resident had returned the form, but it will also not result in a zero population.

In New York, this work to find missing addresses began in 2016, and by the time the census was taken for 2020, there were 122,000 additional housing units on the list of households to be enumerated. State officials have made a similar effort on a larger scale, using administrative records to send local officials to investigate addresses and find group homes housing multiple residents. They managed to add 80,000 more addresses to the list.

It’s unclear exactly how this affected the census results, but it was enough to establish that New York City had in fact grown over the past decade. Some clues have emerged from the technical data the bureau released last week with the first numbers, “Operational Quality Metrics,” which break down the general metrics of the count.

According to this data, New York’s Master Address List increased by 693,000 statewide, and after filtering for invalid addresses and vacant units, the census counted the population in 446,000 additional housing units over 2010, which could reflect the two new units that the census already knew. and the efforts of LUCA. That’s a 6% increase that goes hand in hand with population growth of 4.2%.

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