Census Rules Apartment Managers Should Know

Article 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution Requires a Census

The United States Government is required by law to conduct a census every ten years and count every resident in the country. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States plainly states:

“The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of 10 years, in such manner as they shall by Law direct.”

In March 2010 the Census Department will mail out a questionnaire with ten simple questions that are not particularly invasive compared to previous censuses.  Census information remains private and is protected by Federal Law.  Data is extrapolated and summarized as the information is used for many purposes including forecasting future government services, determining the number of congressmen within a district and appropriations for schools, hospitals and other important infrastructure.

There is $400 billion on the line with this Census which will help determine who gets bridges, hospitals, job training centers, emergency services and other public works projects. Any census form not returned to the Census Bureau by April 1st, 2010, will generate a personal visit to that residence address. Residents should view complying with the census the same way we view jury service.  It is our public duty.

The census taker will attempt several times to complete the questionnaire in person.  It is important that multifamily housing managers and members of condominium and cooperative homeowners’ association know that census-takers must be given access to the front doors of units. Managers should ask for a census taker’s identification before allowing access.  Official enumerators have badges, but if a manager is concerned for any reason he or she should contact one of the twelve Census Regional offices and confirm the person is a Census employee.

Managers should remember that census workers may be returning to the apartments several times in their attempts to reach the residents.  If the census taker is unable to complete the questionnaire with the occupants, they can and will ask managers to help them compile the information.  Managers should cooperate as much as they can, although it is not the responsibility of a manager to hold tenants accountable.

On the other hand, save the enumerator vehicle fuel and save yourself unneeded bother. Encourage your tenants to mail their forms back on time via your website or tenant newsletter.

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