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Except for the few instances noted below, the concepts and definitions used in the 1955 quarterly survey are identical with those used in the 1950 Census. However, the content of the 1955 survey differed slightly from the 1950 Census. In 1955, but not in 1950, information was collected on the number of bedrooms, duration of vacancy, and inclusion of utilities in rent. on the other hand, the 1950 Census included questions on plumbing facilities and year built. In both years,

information was obtained on number of rooms in the unit, number of dwelling units in the structure, condition, status, monthly rent, and sale price.

Nonfarm residence.--Nonfarm dwelling units are defined to include all units not on farms. For occupied units, the farm-nonfarm classification is based on the respondent's reply to the question, "Is this house on a farm?" Farm residence is, therefore, determined without regard to the occupation of the members of the household and reflects local usage rather than the uniform application of an objective definition.

Dwelling units located on farm land where cash rent is paid for the house and yard only, and dwelling units on institutional grounds and in summer camps and tourist courts, were classified as nonfarm.

The major portion of the 1955 definitions is presented below. More complete definitions and explanations, as well as some discussion of the development of the concepts, are contained in 1950 Census of Housing, Volume I, General Characteristics.

For vacant units, the farm-nonfarm classification depends on whether the residents in the vicinity consider the place to be a farm. Because of the difficulty in obtaining a reliable classification for many vacant units in rural areas, no separate vacancy rates are provided for farm and nonfarm units. However, the classification is considered sufficiently reliable to provide percentage distributions for rent and value data, which

restricted to nonfarm units (tables 5, 6, and 7).






Urban-rural residence.--Urban housing prises all dwelling units in (a) places of 2,500 inhabitants

incorporated cities, boroughs, and villages, (b) incorporated towns of 2,500 inhabitants or more except in New England, New York, and Wisconsin, where "towns" are simply minor civil divisions of counties, (c) the densely settled urban fringe around cities of 50,000 inhabitants or more, including both incorporated and unincorporated areas, and (d) unincorporated places of 2,500 inhabitants or more outside any ur ban fringe. The remaining dwelling units are classified as rural.

Standard metropolitan areas.--Except in New England, a standard metropolitan area is a county or group of contiguous counties which contains at least one city of 50,000 inhabitants or more at the time of the 1950 Census. Counties contiguous to the one containing such a city are included in a standard metropolitan area if according to certain criteria they are essentially metropolitan in character and socially and economically integrated with the central city.

In New England, towns and cities were the units used in defining standard metropolitan areas. Here a population density criterion was applied rather than the criteria relating to metropolitan character.


The urban classification thus includes, in addition to dwelling units in urban places, the housing in closely settled areas in the vicinity of large cities.

These areas,

known the "urban fringe," were established to conform as nearly as possible to the actual boundaries of thickly settled territory, usually characterized by a closely spaced street pattern. Urban fringe areas were set


each city of 50,000 inhabitants or more just prior to the 1950 Census. Thus, some concentrations of new housing just outside city limits may be classified as rural.


The definition for urban housing, given above, is that used for the 1950 Census. The identification and boundaries of urban places and urban fringes established for the 1950 Census were not brought up to date for the 1955 statistics SO that the designation of urban housing is the same for both years.

Statistics for "inside standard metropolitan areas" in tables 2, 3, and 4 are for all vacant dwelling units--urban and rural, farm and nonfarm--which are located within the counties and places comprising standard metropolitan areas. Statistics in table 5 are limited nonfarm units inside and outside standard metropolitan areas.

For a list of all standard metropolitan areas,

and their constituent counties (cities, towns), refer to the individual chapters (or bulletins) in the 1950 Census of Housing, Volume I, General Characteristics; or to the 1950 Census of Population, Volume I, Number of Inhabitants, or Volume II, Characteristics of the Population, Part 1, United States Summary.

The rural classification comprises a variety of residences, such as isolated homes in the open country and dwelling units in villages and hamlets of fewer than 2,500 inhabitants.

The standard metropolitan areas were established at the time of the 1950 Census. Both the 1950 and 1955 statistics relate to these same (168) areas. A map identifying the standard metropolitan areas and their location is given on page 15 of this report.

Nonresident dwelling units.--A nonresident dwelling unit is a unit which is occupied temporarily by persons who usually live elsewhere, provided the usual place of residence was held for the household and was not offered for rent or for sale. For example, a beach cottage occupied during the summer vacation by a family which has a usual place of residence in the city is considered a nonresident unit. Their house in the city would be reported "occupied" and would be included in the count of occupied units since the occupants are only temporarily absent.


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Nonresident units in the 1955 statistics are included with "vacant" units--as seasonal, dilapidated, or not dilapidated but held off the market, as the case may be. In the 1950 statistios, the nonresident units are shown as a geparate category; for comparison with the 1955 results, however, these units were distributed among seasonal, dilapidated, and not dilapidated units held off the market.

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Dwelling units.--In general, a dwelling unit is a group of rooms or a single room occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters by a family or other group of persons living together or by a person living alone.

Ordinarily, a dwelling unit is a house, an apartment, or a flat. A dwelling unit may be located in a structure devoted to business other nonresidential use, such as quarters in a warehouse where the watchman lives

merchant's quarters in back of his shop.

Trailers, boats, tents, and railroad cars, when occupied as living quarters, are included in the dwelling unit inventory; if vacant, however, such aocommodations are excluded.

A group of rooms, occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters, dwelling unit if it has separate cooking equipment or separate entrance. A single room, occupied or intend ed for occupancy as separate living quarters, 18 a dwelling unit if it has separate cooking equipment or if it constitutes the only living quarters in the structure. Each apartment in a regular apartment house is a dwelling unit even though it may not have separate cooking equipment. Apartments in residential hotels are dwelling units if they have separate cooking equipment or consist of two or more rooms. Since it is customary in some localities for the intend ed occupants to furnish their own cooking equipment, vacant units were considered as having cooking equipment if they were currently equipped with or if the last occupants had suoh equipment.

Living quarters of the following types are not included in the dwelling unit inventory: Sleeping rooms in rooming houses; transient accommodations (tourist courts, hotels, etc., predominantly for transients); and barracks for workers (railroad, construction, etc.). Living quarters in institutions (for delinquent dependent children, handicapped persons, the aged, prisoners, etc.), general hospitals, and military installations

likewise excluded from the dwelling unit inventory except for dwelling units in buildings containing only family quarters for staff members.

Vacant dwelling units.--A dwelling unit is vacant if no persons were living in it at the time of enumeration, except when its occupants were only temporarily absent. Dilapidated vacant dwelling units were included if they were intended for occupancy as living quarters; however, if the unit was unfit for use and beyond repair so that it was no longer considered living quarters, it was excluded from the inventory. New units not yet occupied were enumerated vacant dwelling units if construction ceeded to the point that all the exterior windows and doors were installed and final usable floors were in place; otherwise, potential units under construction were not included.


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As indicated above, dwelling units occupied by nonresidents were included with vacant units.




Seasonal and year-round vacant units.--Seasonal dwelling units are those intended for 00cupancy during only a portion of the year, and are found primarily in resort areas. In farm areas, dwelling units used for only a portion of the year

to house migratory workers employed during the crop season are classified as seasonal. In resort areas, a dwelling unit which is usually occupied on a year-round basis was CODsidered a year-round unit. On the other hand, dwelling unit located in the closely built-up area of a nonresort city was considered a "yearround" unit even though it may be occupied only part of the year.

Seasonal units comprise unoccupied units and units temporarily occupied by nonresidents. Units in resort areas occupied by persons who considered the unit their usual place of residence or had

no other place of residence are classified as occupied. (See also section on "Nonresident dwelling units.")

Occupied dwelling units.--A dwelling unit is occupied if a person or group of persons was living in it at the time of enumeration

or if the occupants were only temporarily absent, as for example, on vacation. The count of occupied dwelling units is the same as the count of households. (See also section on "Nonresident dwelling units.")

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Specifically, a dwelling unit was reported as dilapidated if-

1. It had one or more critical doriciencies, as for example-

a. Holes, open cracks, rotted, loose, or missing materials over a considerable area of the foundation, outside walls, roof, inside walls, floors, or ceilings.

b. Substantial sagging of floors, walls, or roof.

O. Extensive damage by storm, flood, or fire;


Available vacant units.--This category provides a measure of vacant dwelling units which are on the housing market for year-round use, It consists of units which are for year-round use, are not dilapidated, and are being offered for rent or sale. Excluded are seasonal units, dilapidated units, and units already rented or sold or not on the rental or sale market for other reasons.

The count of available vacancies constitutes a more effective measure or the supply of vacant housing than does the count of total vacancies. This category is comparable with the 1950 category "Nonseasonal not dilapidated, for rent or sale."

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2. It had a combination of minor dericiencies which were present in sufficient number and extent to give evidence that the unit did not provide adequate shelter or protection against the elements or was physically unsafe. Examples of these deficiencies are-

a. Holes, open cracks, rotted, loose, or missing materials over a small area.

b. Shaky or unsafe porch, steps, or railings.

C. Broken or missing window panes.

d. Rotted or loose window frames which are no longer rainproof or windproof. Damaged, unsafe,

or makeshift chimney.

1. Broken, loose, missing inside stair treads or risers, balusters, or railings.

The category "For rent" consists of vacant units offered for rent as well as those being offered both for rent and for sale. The category "For sale" is limited to units for sale only. If a unit was located

multi-unit structure which was for sale as an entire structure, and if the unit was not for rent, it was reported as "held off market." However, 2- or 3-dwelling-unit structure which was for

the unit intended to be occupied by the owner was reported as for sale.

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Vacant units rented or sold.--This group consists of year-round not dilapidated vacant units which have been rented or sold but the

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including both occupied and vacant units. A structure may be detached, attached, or semidetached. A detached structure has open space on all four sides; an attached structure is one of a row of three or more ad joining structures, or is a structure attached to a nonresidential structure; while a semidetached structure is one of two adjoining residential structures, each with open space

on the

remaining three sides. In apartment developments, each building with open space on all sides is considered a separate structure.

Vacant units held off the market.--Included in this category are year-round not dilapidated units which were vacant for reasons other than those mentioned above: for example, held for occupancy of a caretaker, janitor, and the like; held for settlement of estate; held for personal reasons of the owner; temporarily used for storage; and temporarily occupied by persons who have a usual place of residence elsewhere. In the 1950 Census, such units


in combination with year-round not dilapidated vacant units, rented or sold, as "nonseasonal not dilapidated, not for rent or sale" units.


Statistics are based on the number of vacant dwelling units classified by the number of dwelling units in the structure in which they are located, rather than on the number of residential structures that contain vacant units.


and per


Number of rooms. --All rooms which are to be used, or are suitable for use, as living quarters were counted in determining the number of rooms in the dwelling unit. Included are kitchens, bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, manently enclosed sunporches of substantial size; and finished basement or attic rooms, recreation rooms, or other rooms suitable for use as living quarters. A kitchenette or half-room which is partitioned off from floor to ceiling was counted as a separate room, but a combined kitchenette and dinette separated only by shelves or cabinets was counted as only one room. Not counted as rooms were bathrooms , strip or pullman kitchens, halls or foyers, alcoves, pantries, laundries, closets or storage space, and unfinished basement or attic rooms not suitable for living quarters.

In the 1955 survey, data were obtained the number of dwelling wits in the structure, regardless of the type of structure (detached, attached, or semidetached) in which the unit was located. In the 1950 Census, statistics for l- and 2-dwelling-unit structures are shown type of structure as well as by number of dwelling units in the structure. Figures for 1950 "l dwelling unit" category, for the tables in this report, were derived by combining "l dwelling unit, detached," "i dwelling unit, attached, and an estimated portion of the "1 and 2 semidetached" category which represents units in semidetached structures containing only i dwelling unit. Similarly, the figures for the "2 dwelling unit" category were derived by combining the "2 dwelling unit, other" category and the remaining portion of the "l and 2 semidetached" category.

The median number of rooms is the theoretical value which divides the dwelling units equally, one-half having more rooms and one-half having fewer rooms than the median. In the computation of the median, a continuous distribution was assumed. For example, when the median was in the 3-room group,

the lower and upper limits were assumed to be 2.5 and 3.5, respectively. Tenths were used in the computation of the median to permit comparisons.

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Duration of vacancy.--The length of time a divelling unit was vacant was computed from the day the unit became vacant until the day of enumeration. It should be noted that the time period is not the total time a unit remains unoccupied but is the duration of vacancy the day of enumeration. For newly constructed units, it represents the time period since the date when the unit was considered a vacancy, that is, when construction had reached the point that all exterior windows and doors

installed and final usable floors were in place.


Number of bedrooms.--Only rooms intended primarily to be slept in were counted as bedrooms. A bed-living room or a den intended primarily for purposes other than sleeping was not counted as a bedroom. A l-room apartment, therefore, was reported as having no bedroom. Also, space which could be made into bedrooms

(the upper floor of a

lg-story house, for example) was not counted as a bedroom unless it was finished off and suitable for use as living quarters.

The time intervals used in the tables represent one full month calculated from a date in the month to the same date the following month. For example, if the unit became vacant on April 29 and was still vacant on the day of enumeration, June 17, the time reported would be "i to 2 months," meaning that the unit had been vacant for nore than one month but less than two months. Or if the unit became vacant on May 25 and was still vacant on June 17, the time reported would be "less than 1 month."

Number of dwelling units in structure.--A structure either stands by itself or has vertical walls dividing it from all other structures. The count of dwelling units in a structure is the total number of units in the structure,

Monthly rent.--The monthly rent is the amount asked for the unit at the time of enumeration, regardless of whether it is to include

furniture, heating fuel, electricity, cooking fuel, water, or other services. If the amount of rent were to vary during the year, the rent reported was the monthly amount asked at the time of enumeration, Rent data are limited to nonfarm available vacant units for rent and to nonfarm year-round not dilapidated units rented but not occupied. Rent statistics are not provided for farm units because of the difficulty of separating the rental of the dwelling unit from that for the entire farm unit.

and independent cities. A total of 24,000 to 26,000 dwelling units and other living quarters were designated for the sample during each of the three months covered by the report. Of this total, about 21,000 to 23,000 were occupied dwelling units, 2,000 were vacant, and the remainder were units which had been converted to commercial use, had been demolished, etc., or were not living quarters within the scope of the survey. Detailed information was obtained for each vacant imit in the sample.

The data for 1950 are based on the returns of the 1950 Census of Housing, and represent the results of a complete enumeration.

The median monthly rent of the dwelling units is the rent which divides the series into two equal parts, one-half of the units with rents higher than the median and the other half with rents lower than the median. In the computation of the median, a continuous distribution was assumed; and the limits of the class intervals were assumed to stand at the midpoints of the l-dollar interval between the end of one of the rent groups and the beginning of the next. For example, the limits of the interval designated $30 to $39 were assumed to be $29.50 and $39.50.

Since the 1955 statistics presented in this report are based on a sample, they are subject to sampling variability and may be expected to differ from results that would have been obtained from a complete count in which identical enumeration techniques were employed. The standard error is a measure of sampling variability. The chances are about 68 out of 100 that the difference due to sampling variability between an estimate and the figure that would have been obtained from a complete enumeration is less than the standard error. The chances are about 95 out of 100 that the difference is less than twice the standard error and about 99 out of 100 that it is less than 23 times the standard error.

Inclusion of utilities in rent, --The utilities included in this inquiry are heat, light, cooking fuel, and water. The statistics reflect whether all or not all of these utilities are provided for in the amount of rent asked at the time of enumeration, not what could be provided for more or less rent. Data on the inclusion of utilities are limited to nonfarm available vacant units for rent.

The standard errors of a few of the more important statistics in this report are shown below. To illustrate :


available vacancy rate for the United States is estimated as 2.3 percent. According to the table below, the standard error of this estimate is about 0.1 percent.

The chances are, therefore, about 68 out of 100 that a complete enumeration would have yielded an estimate between 2.2 and 2.4 percent.

sale price of l-dwelling-unit structures. The sale price is the amount asked for the property, including the structure


its land. Value data are limited to vacant nonfarm units in lodwelling-unit structures, without business, and with only one dwelling unit included in the property. The statistics are limited to nonfarm available vacant units for sale and to nonfarm year-round not dilapidated units sold but not yet occupied. Values for other available units for sale are not provided because they would reflect varying amounts for farm land, business uses, or for more than one dwelling unit in the property.

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