Massachusetts 2020 Census

Secretary William Francis Galvin – Census Liaison

Information for Group Quarters

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 If you live in:

College dormitories

Correctional facilities

Group homes

Mental hospitals

Military barracks


Nursing homes


You are considered living in Group Quarters and will be counted through various means.

What are Group Quarters?

Group Quarters (GQ) include college dormitories, nursing homes, correctional facilities, shelters, workers’ quarters, convents, group homes, and all other arrangements where unrelated individuals live together with shared facilities or services. People residing in group living arrangements in the Commonwealth are counted through different means than the household population.

The Census Bureau will conduct “GQ Advance Contact” operations before Census day by reaching out to each GQ to verify information, determine the enumeration method available for the facility, and address any questions related to the upcoming count. Information collected through GQ Advance Contact includes: GQ name, address and contact name, contact phone number, expected population, and preferred enumeration method.

People living in group quarters are counted in one of the following ways:

1. Enumeration Using Paper Form
The primary method of conducting in-person enumeration of people residing in GQs is by using the Individual Census Questionnaire as the paper data collection instrument. In-person interviewing is planned for all GQ types that are part of the field enumeration workload; for example, GQs that are not enumerated using the eResponse methodology. The in-field operation will be conducted from April 1, 2020, to June 12, 2020, and will cover all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Late GQ enumeration ends July 25, 2020, to allow for stakeholder identification and enumeration of GQs that may have been missed.

2. Drop-Off, Pick Up
Drop Off/Pick Up involves enumerators setting a time to drop off paper questionnaires to a GQ administrator or point of contact and picking up the completed questionnaires at an agreed upon time. Enumerators may use a roster of the GQ to aid in comparing the number of questionnaires picked up, and how many residents were listed on the roster. This method is often used for college dormitories, where residential assistance staff are asked to distribute and collect census forms from students living in their area.

3. Pick Up Paper Response Data File
Paper response data collection involves Enumerators picking up a roster of residents and associated demographic data from the GQ administrator or contact person. The Enumerator will evaluate the roster to make sure that it contains response data. Minimally complete responses include name, sex, and age or date of birth, though Enumerators are instructed to collect responses for all questions: name, usual home elsewhere, address, sex, age or date of birth, and race and ethnicity. This method is often used for care facilities, such as acute care nursing homes, where facility administrators have access to basic patient information.

4. GQ Facility Self-Enumeration
Facility Self-Enumeration involves a representative from the GQ conducting enumeration of respondents at the GQ. During 2010, only correctional facilities and medical facilities were offered this option for enumeration. There are some GQ facilities, which for the 2020 Census, may also prefer to self-enumerate their GQ residents. GQ staff requesting facility self-enumeration as an option could consider in-person enumeration as disruptive to operations, or posing risk. For example, a number of correctional facilities expressed interest in facility self-enumeration in order to minimize potential security impacts. A number of hospitals also expressed interest in facility self-enumeration to protect ongoing medical operations and patient privacy.

At self-enumerating GQs, a Census Field Supervisor administers the census oath to GQ staff members who conduct the enumeration to maintain the confidentiality of the data. The field supervisor trains staff, provides census materials, and collects completed questionnaires. Staff members at self-enumerating GQs deliver the census forms to residents, help fill out forms, and collect completed forms. GQ enumerators then return to the GQ to pick up completed forms.

Homeless Populations and Service-Based Enumeration (SBE)

As part of the GQ operation, the Census Bureau has developed special enumeration procedures to count people experiencing homelessness at service locations and pre-identified outdoor locations. The SBE operation is specifically designed to approach people using service facilities because the homeless may be missed during the traditional enumeration of housing units and GQs. These service locations and outdoor locations include the following:

For the 2020 Census, the Service-Based Enumeration operation will be conducted in March 2020. Service providers for SH, SK, and RSMFV will be given the flexibility for their facility to be enumerated on any one of these three days March 30, March 31, or April 1, during the enumeration period. TNSOLs will be enumerated April 1, 2020. The results from the SBE operation do not provide a count of the population experiencing homelessness or a count of the population who use those services at any geographic level.

Advance contact is made with the administrators at defined locations. The Census Bureau will conduct the enumeration at each defined location on the date and time selected by the GQ administrators.

Advance contact questions asked for SBE locations include:

Enumerators will conduct an in-person interview with the people using a paper questionnaire. SBE locations of any type can be added to the universe during the Group Quarters Advance Contact operation.

Domestic Violence Shelters

Domestic Violence Shelters are enumerated using special procedures and specially-trained personnel. This approach is designed to protect the safety and security of people at these locations.

Source: Figures and most language from: 2020 Census Detailed Operational Plan for: 15. Group Quarters Operation (GQ) Version 1.0 September 29, 2017 Final

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