A statewide study of addresses has turned up more than 4,000 Central Virginia homes that were not included in the 2010 Census, according to officials at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.
The center on Tuesday released results of its review of addresses in 74 of Virginia’s 95 counties and 27 of 38 independent cities. The review shows 4,188 more addresses in Central Virginia than were recorded in 2010.
That could result in as many as 10,000 residents who could otherwise be unaccounted for come the 2020 Census.
The U.S. Constitution requires a full count of every resident in the country once a decade. The numbers are used to allocate how many of the nation’s House of Representatives seats are given to each state.
The numbers also determine how billions of dollars of federal funds are allocated each year.
The Cooper Center’s review was conducted at the behest of Gov. Ralph Northam, and was ordered to be completed in three months. The state study was part of a nationwide effort by the U.S. Census Bureau to improve the accuracy of address lists to be used in the upcoming population count.
“The decennial census is very important and we greatly appreciate the governor’s vision, commitment and support to ensure every living quarter in Virginia is fully and accurately counted,” said Qian Cai, of the Cooper Center. “We look forward to assisting the Commonwealth’s communication efforts to inform every Virginian why their participation in the census matters.”
According to the Cooper Center report, census residential address lists are typically accurate for suburban neighborhoods with single-family houses built after World War II, but are less accurate for urban areas where residents change addresses more often.
“If an address is not on the list, the residents of that address will likely not be counted and Virginia will be underrepresented,” said Hamilton Lombard, Cooper Center demographer.
Using the Census Bureau estimate of 2.58 people per residence, the 4,188 new addresses located in Central Virginia in the study could equate to 10,800 more people in the region.
Albemarle County had 1,868 new addresses show up in the study and Charlottesville had 255.
Louisa County had 742 previously unlisted addresses, Greene County had 432 and Fluvanna County had 353.
The study discovered 250 addresses in Orange County, 164 in Nelson County, 104 in Buckingham County and 20 in Madison County.
The study also showed 33,555 unlisted addresses across the state that could mean an additional 70,000 or more people to be counted for Virginia in the next census.
Cooper Center staff looked at large rural areas, cities with a large number of commercial buildings repurposed for residential use and high-growth areas for missing addresses. Researchers said areas where commercial buildings have been converted to residences or where apartment complexes recently have been built often have new addresses not included in the previous census.
The Census Bureau provided the Cooper Center with an address list, an address count by census block and computerized files. Researchers used those files and community-generated E-911 addresses to compile the address lists.
“The E-911 addresses are provided by each local government and developed based on local records and expertise,” the report explains. “They are formatted consistently and updated quarterly.”
To identify buildings converted to residences, the address lists were compared against the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of non-residential addresses and against addresses on the Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ 2018 report on historic tax credits.
The center then provided the Census Bureau a house number, street name, apartment unit, ZIP code, city or county location, latitude and longitude numbers, census block number and census tract number for each address.
The Cooper Center also reviewed address files for the 46 Virginia localities that did not register to participate in the local government residence accounting program set up by the state.
With the new addresses added to the census list, the Census Bureau will be able to contact more local residents when the 2020 count cranks up. The bureau will send questionnaires via mail and will send census takers to interview in person those who do not return the mailed documents.
Questions asked on the census include the number of people living in the residence; whether the home is an apartment, trailer or house; if the residence is rented, owned, mortgaged or occupied without rent; and the telephone number of the person answering the questions.
The census also inquires about the sex; age and date of birth; Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin; and race of each person living in the residence.
In 2010, 80 percent of Virginians returned the mailed questionnaires.
“Twenty percent of Virginia residences were visited by census enumerators, increasing the cost of the census,” Cai said. “What many people may not realize is that Census Bureau employees will visit the homes of those who do not return the form mailed to every residential address.”