How do we count people who moved due to COVID 19 or job loss?

Many people who have lost their jobs have given up their leases and moved in with family. College students who lived on campus or near their schools have been sent home. People have moved in with other family temporarily to take care of them or be cared for during the epidemic. We want to help advocates give clarity on where individuals should be counted.

The Census Bureau has stated that people should be counted “at their usual residence, which is where they live and sleep most of the time, even if they are temporarily staying elsewhere on April 1, 2020”. This means that if an individual or a family is staying at another address temporarily because of COVID-19 or because they or a family member lost their job, then they should be counted at their usual residence – not where they are staying currently because of the coronavirus.

If a person or family is unsure if they will return to their usual residence or address after COVID-19 is over, they should be counted at the address where they were staying on April 1, 2020.

College students who lived in dorms or college-owned housing will be counted by their academic institution and should not be counted at home. College students who lived off campus in a separate apartment should be counted there. They may have gotten their census forms forwarded to them. If they didn’t, they can just go online and use the address of their college apartment. Ideally, they would coordinate with all the roommates at that one address and fill out one form, but if they can’t get that information together, they can do it independently.

Below are more resources that you can use as a guide for addressing these concerns:

  • 8 Simple Rules This is a quick 8-point reference to help count young children in the right place. Its also available in Spanish.
  • FAQS This frequently asked questions covers a wide range of possible situations for counting young children in the census.
  • Messaging and Outreach Kit This kit has several resources that you can use as a guide for counting children, particularly the Message Guide and Palm Card.

Here are a few questions that can help people and families assess where they should be counted:

  1. Is the place that I am staying at temporarily because of COVID-19 or job loss going to become my permanent residence?
    1. If yes – you should be counted at that address.
    2. If no – you should use your permanent address and only include those who would be living at your permanent address.
    3. If you are unsure—you should be counted at that address.
  2. If you are a college student, did you live in university owned housing?
    1. If yes, you will be counted by the university.
    2. If no, you should file your own response with your roommates here and use your apartment address or street address (not a PO box address).


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