Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Rockville Mayor & Council consider challenging 2020 U.S. Census count of city's housing units, group quarters

The City of Rockville may officially challenge the 2020 U.S. Census count of its number of housing units and group quarters, if the Mayor and Council authorize city staff to do so at its meeting this coming Monday, July 11, 2022. City staff reviewing the census data determined that the 2020 numbers fall short of the City's own tabulation of population and households in the municipality. A preliminary City review concluded that "the Census Bureau undercounted the housing units and group quarters in the city," a staff report states.  The fact that the data were collected during the pandemic is the primary reason staff believes the numbers were inaccurately determined.

Examples of "group quarters" include correctional facilities, student housing, group homes and residential treatment centers. They are households in which the members are usually not related to one another. 

If authorized by the Mayor and Council, city staff could engage in the formal process to challenge census data. The Census Count Question Resolution Operation (CQR) would involve the city forwarding the evidence it has to challenge the tally of housing units and group quarters. While city staff found the total population of Rockville also appears to have been undercounted, there is not a formal process through which that number can be challenged, the report notes. For that reason, the city would be focused only on challenging the counts of housing units, and group quarters population.

The 2020 Census shows Rockville as having 27,953 housing units and a group quarters population of 951, for a total of 28,904 in the City of Rockville as of April 1, 2020. The Census shows Rockville's total population as 67,117. By contrast, the city's own data show 30,031 housing units and group quarters, and a total population of 70,620 as of December 2021.  City records show approximately 350 new housing units becoming available for occupancy within city limits between April 1, 2020 and December 2021.

Any error acknowledgement from the U.S. Census Bureau would be issued by September 2023. The totals would not be corrected in the 2020 Census itself. Instead, they would be updated in the base data sets that are used for budget and resource allocations by Congress and federal agencies.

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