Pre-Census program at USF finds possible 100,000 new Hillsborough residents

TAMPA, Fla. (Jun. 5, 2008) – Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, federal and state funding for projects from Head Start to highways, along with business and marketing decisions all depend on an accurate Census count. The next one will be conducted in 2010 but before that happens, the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program helps update the Census Bureau’s address list. A Tampa Bay LUCA work group’s findings so far indicate over 50,000 new residential addresses.

Hillsborough County (including the Growth Management Department and the Planning Commission) and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City formed a LUCA Work Group to assist in optimizing local Census accuracy. They have garnered a small grant from the Florida LUCA Program and hired the Florida Center for Community Design and Research (Florida Center) at the University of South Florida to assist in updating materials from Census 2000.

So far, and subject to verification by Census officials as they move into the next step of the process, the Florida Center and the LUCA Work Group were able to document and map about 51,000 new residential addresses. Given an average household size of about two, this represents over 100,000 potential new residents to be counted in 2010.

“Imagine a take-home exam with a multi-million dollar payoff for local governments in Hillsborough County, and you have some idea of the value of a the LUCA program,” said B. Terry Johnson, associate in research at USF’s Florida Center for Community Design and Research.

“Federal estimates suggest more than $300 billion a year in federal and state funding is divided among recipients based on Census results, like Head Start and federal highway and transit grants. Clearly, it is in the best interest of local governments to assure highly accurate head counts. In these difficult economic times for local governments, the Census-based revenues are more important than ever. More new residents mean enhanced funding to the County and its cities. From USF’s perspective, this is a great example of community engagement since we helped local governments work together to ace that take home exam,” Johnson said.

The LUCA program allows tribal, state and local governments to help update the Census Bureau’s address list that will be used to conduct the 2010 Decennial Census. This use of local knowledge, authorized by the Census Address List Improvement Act of 1994, has had significant implications in Hillsborough as a result of this unique partnership.

“A great deal of cooperative effort was apparent as planners and researchers worked side by side to add addresses to the Master Address File (MAF) of the Census Bureau,” said Johnson. “This was a daunting task given the degree of growth in Florida over the last seven to eight years, but the intergovernmental team had experience from previous counts, voluminous data from postal and 911 emergency databases, and powerful GIS (geographic information systems) tools and expertise at their disposal.

The U. S. Census, which is required by the Constitution every ten years since the first count in 1790, serves a number of purposes. According to the Census Bureau, the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned based on this information, many states and cities use the data to draw their legislative districts and private businesses identifying labor and consumer markets rely on it.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

 – USF –