Counting in the Wake of a Catastrophe: Challenges and Recommendations for the 2010 Census in the Gulf Coast Region
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund - August 2009
Four years after the catastrophic combination of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and multiple failures of government preparation and response, this report reviews factors that contribute to the unique difficulties in obtaining an accurate count in the Gulf Coast region for the 2010 Census. We recommend a set of policy and operational changes that would increase the likelihood of a successful count, which is vitally important to continued progress in communities still recovering from the impact of the 2005 storms.
The always-daunting task of accurately counting the U.S. population every 10 years is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The count, carried out by the U.S. Census Bureau based on a nationwide survey of households, is used to allocate representation in the U.S. House of Representatives among the states, to draw congressional and state legislative district lines, to direct the distribution of trillions of dollars in federal, state, and private spending and investment decisions, and to assist in the evaluation and enforcement of civil rights protections.
The uneven accuracy of previous Census counts – particularly the higher likelihood that racial and ethnic minorities, people with low income, people with limited English proficiency, and others are more likely to be undercounted – raises serious civil rights concerns about equality of political representation and economic opportunity.
For the 2010 Census, the task will be exceptionally challenging in the Gulf Coast region.
View the report by section below, or download a printable version of the full report (PDF).
Table of Contents
- Importance of the 2010 Census to the Gulf Coast Region
- Difficulties of a Post-Katrina Count in Gulf Coast Communities
- Good News from the Census Bureau
- Reasons for Continued Concern
- This Report
- The Long-Term Demographic Impact of Katrina
- The Changing Racial and Ethnic Landscape
- Demographics and Hard-to-Count Areas
- Vacant Housing Units
- Households without Telephone Service
- Renter-Occupied Housing
- Addressing the Challenges of an Address-Based System
- Residence Rules and Displaced Residents
- Difficulties in Enumerating Immigrant and Migrant Populations
- The Impact of High Vacancy Rates and Temporary Housing
- Consequences of More Households without Phone Service
- A Potential Downside to Relatively Strong Economic Conditions
- Communications Campaign