Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA)

I attended the State Data Center Affiliate meeting last month. Periodically over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing things I've learned.

The big thing the Census Bureau his working on is the 2010 Decennial Census. It may seem far away, but there is a lot of preparation that goes on.

Even though the charge of the Census is to count people, the Census first needs to establish residential addresses where they can send forms. There is something called the Master Address File. They ask local officials to verify the addresses they have, through a program called LUCA.

Of course, addresses change in in obvious and not-so-apparent ways. New construction will add to the housing stock, while demolition, including fire and natural disasters, will reduce it. But a change of usage will also affect the housing stock; for instance, an office building that turns its upper floors to apartments or condos will add to the roster. So will turning a one-family home to a two-family home by creating an "in-law" apartment in the basement.

Verifying an address can be tricky. Check the picture above. Just how many addresses are there at this building? Does one count the number of mailboxes? The number of buzzers? And how are those apartments designated? A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 or 1st floor front, 1st floor rear, or something else?

Getting an accurate count is vital to New York. Based on population shifts, New York State is certain to lose one Congressional seat after the 2010 Census; whether it loses a second one may well be determine on how well New Yorkers are counted.

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