BOX 1-1

Group Quarters Definition and Major Types


A group quarters is a place where people live or stay, in a group living arrangement, that is owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. This is not a typical household-type living arrangement. These services may include custodial or medical care as well as other types of assistance, and residency is commonly restricted to those receiving these services. People living in group quarters are usually not related to each other. Group quarters include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, correctional facilities, and workers’ dormitories.


  1. Correctional facilities for adults;

  2. Juvenile facilities (including both correctional and noncorrectional facilities);

  3. Nursing facilities and skilled nursing facilities;

  4. Other health care facilities (including inpatient hospice facilities and psychiatric hospitals and units);

  5. College or university student housing (including dormitories and fraternity/sorority housing recognized by the university);

  6. Military group quarters (barracks, dormitories, and military ships); and

  7. Other noninstitutional facilities (including emergency and transitional shelters, group homes intended for adults, residential treatment centers for adults, religious group quarters, and workers’ group living quarters).

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau (2008a).

In 2007, data products based on the ACS began to phase in sample-based estimates of the characteristics of the total (household and GQ) population. The 2010 release of 5-year period estimates will be based on one year of data (2005) that exclude a GQ sample and four years of data (2006-2009) that include GQ samples. Beginning in late 2011, all ACS data products will be based on samples of both households and group quarters.

The 5-year period estimates released in late 2010 from the ACS will furnish population characteristics for the same statistical, legal, and administrative entities as the 2000 census long-form sample. This includes entities as small as census block groups. Although ACS data products are expected to evolve based on data needs and feedback from researchers, the products that will be a part of this first 5-year release will be similar to existing ACS products. Selected data tables will report a breakdown of the total population into those living in households (often accompanied by additional characteristics) and those living in group quarters (with no additional detail).

In some small geographic areas, GQ residents represent a large proportion of the total population, whereas in other areas their number is relatively small or zero. The

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