Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.8, No.2, 1992. pp. 211222

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The United States Census Effort to Count the Homeless: An Assessment of Street Enumeration Procedures During “S-Night” in New Orleans

“Shelter and Street Night” (S-Night) was the attempt by the U.S. Bureau of the Census to include selected components of the nation's homeless population in the 1990 decennial count. Teams of investigators in five cities were contracted by the Census's Center for Survey Methods Research (CSMR) to assist in assessing various aspects of the S-Night enumeration. Among the contracted activities, researchers independently compiled a list of the names and addresses of shelters for comparison against the bureau's existing list of S-Night shelter enumeration sites. In addition, investigators undertook experiments concerning the completeness and reliability of the actual homeless count. This entailed the hiring, training, and supervision of approximately sixty persons deployed as observation teams to designated locations around the city. Subsequent analysis indicated that approximately two-thirds of the observers were enumerated in New Orleans. Aside from missing a third of the observers, numerous other problems were discovered in the homeless count.

Homeless; homelessness; street enumeration.

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