The data on bedrooms were obtained from Housing Question 7b in the 2009 American Community Survey. The question was asked at both occupied and vacant housing units. The number of bedrooms is the count of rooms designed to be used as bedrooms, that is, the number of rooms that would be listed as bedrooms if the house, apartment, or mobile home were on the market "for sale" or "for rent". Included are all rooms intended to be used as bedrooms even if they currently are being used for some other purpose. A housing unit consisting of only one room is classified, by definition, as having no bedroom.
Bedrooms provide the basis for estimating the amount of living and sleeping spaces within a housing unit. These data allow officials to evaluate the adequacy of the housing stock to shelter the population, and to determine any housing deficiencies in neighborhoods. The data also allow officials to track the changing physical characteristics of the housing inventory over time.
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question provided a response category for "None" and space for the respondent to enter a number of bedrooms. From 1999-2007, the question provided pre-coded response categories from "No bedroom" to "5 or more bedrooms." Starting in 2008, the question became the second part of a two-part question that linked the number of "rooms" and number of "bedrooms" questions together. In addition, the wording of the question was changed to ask, "How many of these rooms are bedrooms?" Additional changes introduced in 2008 included removing the pre-coded response categories and adding a write-in box for the respondent to enter the number of bedrooms, providing the rule to use for defining a bedroom as an instruction, and providing an additional instruction addressing efficiency and studio apartments - "If this is an efficiency/studio apartment, print '0'."
The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the bedrooms question in the 2006 ACS Content Test. The results of this testing show that the changes may introduce an inconsistency in the data produced for this question as observed from the years 2007 to 2008, see "2006 ACS Content Test Evaluation Report Covering Rooms and Bedrooms" on the ACS website (www.census.gov/acs
Caution should be used when comparing American Community Survey data on bedrooms from the years 2008 and after with both pre-2008 ACS and Census 2000 data. Changes made to the bedrooms question between the 2007 and 2008 ACS involving the wording as well as the response option resulted in an inconsistency in the ACS data. This inconsistency in the data was most noticeable as an increase in "No bedroom" responses and as a decrease in "1 bedroom" to "3 bedrooms" responses.