urban areas depend largely on measurements made for cities, towns, and counties by the Census Bureau in the decennial enumeration.

Communities are at the heart of HUD's mission, and it needs to continue having information about these integral components of America's cities. Census tracts are the essential building blocks for such community information. HUD uses tract-level data in implementing its own and other federal programs. For example, HUD staff uses tract data to identify qualified census tracts for mortgage revenue bonds and low-income housing tax credits. CDBG program staff monitor the distribution of program assistance using data at the tract-and block-group level. HUD's office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity requires census tract-level data to conduct fair housing compliance reviews mandated by Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. HUD's field office economists use tract data in performing market analyses required under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance programs. Location decisions for HUD-assisted housing require tract-level information to avoid undue concentrations of persons living in poverty.

After looking at the array of census 2000 options and reviewing its data needs, HUD (Cisneros, 1993) concluded that the content and design used in 1990 and other recent censuses come closest to meeting the department's needs.


Federal legislation specifies census data be used by HUD in several areas. Only a few housing items are strictly "mandated" in the census. Mandated items are census questions that federal legislation specifically requires to be collected in the census. In the narrow legal sense of "mandated" there are several housing items, including number of rooms, tenure, year built, that are required to be collected in the census. Most of the mandated items are listed in federal block-grant formulas.

Because of their reliability and accuracy and for geographic consistency across the nation, census data are especially important for housing and urban development programs. The precision and reliability of population and housing items available from a 1990 census "level of content" seem to be adequate for purposes of HUD (Cisneros, 1993). According to HUD (Cisneros, 1993) reliability and accuracy of the "expanded content" and "continuous measurement" approaches would not be adequate for distributing or allocating funds since sampling errors at low levels of aggregation can result in serious misallocations of resources. And, coverage would not be sufficient for adequate evaluation of urban conditions or community development. Also, the realiability and accuracy of current surveys for income and poverty data would not be adequate for establishing program eligibility and distributing or allocating funds, again because sampling errors at low levels of aggregation can cause serious misallocations of resources. As a result, current surveys would not be adequate for assessing

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