The data on rooms were obtained from Housing Question 7a in the 2010 American Community Survey. The question was asked at both occupied and vacant housing units. The statistics on rooms are in terms of the number of housing units with a specified number of rooms. The intent of this question is to count the number of whole rooms used for living purposes.
For each unit, rooms include living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, finished recreation rooms, enclosed porches suitable for year-round use, and lodger's rooms. Excluded are strip or pullman kitchens, bathrooms, open porches, balconies, halls or foyers, half- rooms, utility rooms, unfinished attics or basements, or other unfinished space used for storage. A partially divided room is a separate room only if there is a partition from floor to ceiling, but not if the partition consists solely of shelves or cabinets.
Rooms provide the basis for estimating the amount of living and sleeping spaces within a housing unit. These data allow officials to plan and allocate funding for additional housing to relieve crowded housing conditions. The data also serve to aid in planning for future services and infrastructure, such as home energy assistance programs and the development of waste treatment facilities.
This measure divides the room distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median number of rooms and one-half above the median. In computing median rooms, the whole number is used as the midpoint of the interval; thus, the category "3 rooms" is treated as an interval ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 rooms. Median rooms is rounded to the nearest tenth. (For more information on medians, see the discussion under "Derived Measures.")
Aggregate rooms is calculated by adding all of the rooms for housing units in an area. (For more information on aggregates, see "Derived Measures.")
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question provided a space for a write-in entry on the number of rooms. From 1999-2007 the question provided response categories from "1 room" to "9 or more rooms." Starting in 2008, the response categories were removed and a write-in box was added for the respondent to enter the number of rooms. Additional changes introduced in 2008 included adding the word "separate" to the question stem, adding an instruction that defines a "room," adding an inclusion instruction to include bedrooms and kitchens in the count of rooms, and changing the current exclusion instruction by removing the word "half-room" and adding the phrase "unfinished basements."
The Census Bureau tested the changes introduced to the 2008 version of the rooms 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.
Caution should be used when comparing American Community Survey data on rooms from the years 2008 and after with both pre-2008 ACS and Census 2000 data. Changes made to the rooms 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 "1 room" response and as a decrease in "2 rooms" to "6 rooms" responses.
Second or Junior Mortgage Payments or Home Equity Loan
The data on second mortgages or home equity loan payments were obtained from Housing Questions 20a and 20b in the 2010 American Community Survey. The questions were asked at owner-occupied units. Question 20a asks whether a second mortgage or a home equity loan exists on the property. Question 20b provides the regular monthly amount required to be paid to the lender on all second and junior mortgages and home equity loans. Amounts are included even if the payments are delinquent or paid by someone else. The amounts reported are included in the computation of "Selected Monthly Owner Costs" and "Selected Monthly Owner Costs as a Percentage of Household Income" for units with a mortgage.
All mortgages other than first mortgages (for example, second, third, etc.) are classified as "junior" mortgages. A second mortgage is a junior mortgage that gives the lender a claim against the property that is second to the claim of the holder of the first mortgage. Any other junior mortgage(s) would be subordinate to the second mortgage. A home equity loan is a line of credit available to the borrower that is secured by real estate. It may be placed on a property that already has a first or second mortgage, or it may be placed on a property that is owned free and clear.
If the respondents answered that no first mortgage existed, but a second mortgage or a home equity loan did, a computer edit assigned the unit a first mortgage and made the first mortgage monthly payment the amount reported in the second mortgage. The second mortgage/home equity loan data were then made "No" in Question 20a and blank in Question 20b.
Second mortgage or home equity loan data provide information on the monthly housing cost expenses for owners. When the data is used in conjunction with income data, the information offers an excellent measure of housing affordability and excessive shelter costs. The data also serve to aid in the development of housing programs aimed to meet the needs of people at different economic levels.
By listing the second mortgage or home equity loan question separately on the questionnaire from other housing cost questions, the data also serve to improving the accuracy of estimating monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners.
Since 1996, the American Community Survey questions remained the same.
Data on second mortgages or home equity loans in the American Community Survey can be compared to previous ACS and Census 2000 second mortgages or home equity loans data.