terms of potential coverage on Census Bureau address lists. Given that some hotel rooms (particularly extended-stay options) can effectively serve as short- to long-term leased apartments, an argument could be made for their inclusion as potential housing units. That said, hotel stays are much more often short term in nature. Given the highly transitory nature of most of the hotel population, and that the U.S. census remains a de jure rather than de facto count, it could likewise be argued that special, broadly aimed efforts at enumerating the hotel population would be wasteful.

  • Embedded and associated housing units: As hinted in the 1900 enumerator instructions, hotels and motels can be deceptive in that actual full-time living situations may be overshadowed by the short-term transitory nature of guest stays. For instance, even the smallest motels may have owners or managers who live on-site; they should rightly be counted in the household population, but they may be missed entirely, depending on the quality of address updating systems. Likewise, it is certainly not unprecedented for hotels to become a full-time living arrangement (e.g., family members of owner/managers or conversion of hotels—in part or in full—to apartments or condominiums).28

People Dislocated by Disasters

The destruction caused by natural disasters—hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires—can disrupt the lives of thousands of people, forcing them to find shelter or alternate housing for weeks or months following the disaster. The decennial census has had to deal with the short-term dislocation impacts caused by major disasters: Hurricane Floyd (North Carolina, August 1999) in the 2000 census, the Loma Prieta earthquake (San Francisco Bay area, October 1989) in the 1990 census, and Hurricane Camille (Gulf Coast, August 1969) in the 1970 census among them. But the impact of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005—causing not only massive damage but the effective depopulation of New Orleans—has raised particular concern over major conceptual and logistical challenges, for the definition of residence and for basic data collection, that must be addressed by the decennial census (and the entire federal statistical system). This set of challenges is also set against the backdrop of the terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001, and the realization that major dislocation effects may arise from human-caused as well as natural disasters.

The 2000 census residence rules included no specific provision for counting people displaced by disasters. Under a general heading of “people away


A recent high-profile example is the landmark Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The hotel closed in April 2005 for conversion for mixed use; a smaller hotel component will still operate, with 150 rooms, but 200 condominium units will be carved out for occupancy.

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