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How Will Homeless People & Transient Populations Be Counted

Service-Based Enumeration provides an opportunity for people experiencing homelessness to be counted in the census.

The Census Bureau calls counting people experiencing homelessness “Service-Based Enumeration.”

Service-Based Enumeration provides an opportunity for people experiencing homelessness to be counted in the census. Through this process, people will be counted where they stay or receive services or at predetermined outdoor locations between April 29 – May 1.

Where Is Service-Based Enumeration Conducted?

The Census Bureau counts people who receive services at the following types of locations:

  • Emergency and transitional shelters (with sleeping facilities) where people who may be experiencing homelessness stay overnight. These include shelters that operate on a first-come, first-served basis, where people must leave in the morning and have no guaranteed bed for the next night; shelters where people know that they have a bed for a specified period of time, even if they leave the building every day; and shelters that provide temporary refuge during extreme weather.
  • Soup kitchens that provide meals, distributed in food service lines or bag or box lunches, primarily to people who may be experiencing homelessness.
  • Regularly scheduled mobile food van stops that provide meals at regularly scheduled stops and that primarily serve people who may be experiencing homelessness.
  • Pre-identified non-sheltered outdoor locations where people experiencing homelessness live without paying.

How Does Service-Based Enumeration Work?

A Census Bureau representative conducts an in-person interview with each person who is served or staying at a given service-based location on Census Day. Each interview takes approximately 10 minutes.

Shelters may also choose paper response data collection as their enumeration method. In this case, a Census Bureau representative meets with the group quarters administrator to obtain a paper listing of census response data for each person who is served or staying at the facility on Census Day.

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