How to Handle Income from Temporary U.S. Census Bureau Employment
The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted once every 10 years. Census data is used to determine the number of seats each state holds in Congress and how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed back to states and local communities every year for services and infrastructure, including healthcare, jobs, schools, roads, and businesses.
As part of the census-taking process, the U.S. Census Bureau hires people for thousands of temporary jobs. The positions allow people to earn extra income while helping their community. Recently, the bureau announced the launch of address canvassing, the first major field operation of the 2020 Census. Address canvassing improves and refines the Census Bureau’s address list of households nationwide, which is necessary to deliver invitations to respond to the census. The address list plays a vital role in ensuring a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States. These Census Bureau employees or listers have started walking through neighborhoods across the country checking addresses, and address canvassing will continue through mid-October.
To be eligible to work for the Census Bureau, a person must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number, and be a U.S. citizen. Candidates must complete an online job application, which will ask questions about education, work, and other experiences.
Some of your site residents may have applied for work with the Census Bureau or are thinking about it. In the past, HUD has stated that as one of the Census partners, it’s committed to supporting such employment that will help to ensure the validity and accuracy of the census counts. According to HUD, recipients of rental assistance have turned down employment offers due to the perceived impact to rental and other public assistance benefits. As a result, in 2017, HUD issued Notice PIH 2017-5, “Income exclusions under temporary Census employment and Census access,” clarifying how to handle temporary employment payments by the Census Bureau. Also, in advance of the 2010 census, HUD issued Housing Notice 09-16, which reiterates how an assisted resident’s income from temporary Census Bureau employment should be processed.
Exclude temporary income. Owners and managing agents are to exclude any temporary income payments received from the U.S. Census Bureau. HUD regulations require temporary, sporadic, nonrecurring income not to be included in the family income calculation.
The notice states, “Under this exclusion, PHAs exclude temporary income payments from the U.S. Census Bureau, defined as employment lasting no longer than 180 days per year and not culminating in permanent employment.” This provision applies to all PHAs and HUD grantees that calculate family income under 24 CFR 5.609.
In other words, temporary is defined as employment lasting no longer than 180 days and not culminating in permanent employment. Employer verification of both the employment dates and income amount must be maintained in the resident’s file.
It’s also important to note that if the resident earns more than $600 in a quarter or more than $2,400 in a 12-month period, this will cause EIV to generate an EIV Income Discrepancy. In this situation, you’ll need to document the tenant file to explain that the income wasn’t included on the HUD-50059 because it was excluded by regulation.
Provide access to census workers. The 2017 notice also reminds building managers to give census workers access to properties with federally assisted tenants.