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October 16, 2011 7:51 PM Subscribe
Anyone go through the American Housing Survey interview? What happens? How intrusive is it?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord to law & government (9 answers total)
A few months ago, we got a letter from the Census Bureau saying that we had been selected to take part in the American Housing Survey. The letter said that we as individuals hadn't been selected -- it was the address, everything will be held in strictest confidence, a representative will be contacting us shortly, etc. etc. It also included a worksheet, where they want to know the electricity and gas bills for January, April, August, and December; garbage and trash collection fees, water and sewer costs, and a bunch of questions regarding our house (real estate taxes, down payment on the house, what the mortgage loan was, what was the down payment, how much we still owe, current payment, interest rate).
We didn't hear anything at all from these folks -- until last Thursday, when I got a letter from them saying they've been desperately trying to contact us and failed, and we need to call them to schedule an interview ASAP. I didn't have any phone messages or other letters from these folks, honest.
Then on Friday (the very next day) I come home from shopping to find a letter shoved under my front door saying I need to contact the field rep pronto and that she is obliged to return until she makes contact.
They want to see utility bills from the months mentioned (January? Are you fucking kidding me?) and mortgage statements (payments go out online through my husband's account).
Looking online it sounds like the questions on the worksheet are not the only questions asked -- they have been known to ask when everyone in the house goes to work each day, and other minutiae.
So what happens in these things? It sounds like it isn't a phone interview -- they do come to your house and poke around. My husband is on an extended business trip (won't return until mid-November) and I feel uncomfortable dealing with this by my lonesome. It does say on the survey that I can decline to answer any or all questions. It also says that the survey is voluntary and held in the strictest confidence, but then I read that if I wish to keep my information from being combined with information from other agencies, I have to state that explicitly to the field rep. Does that mean (for example) if one of the rooms is being used as a bedroom and not an office, she will duly report this to the IRS?
They go on and on about how this is a great public service that will help the country -- and I don't dismiss that. I just feel like I'm being forced to cram for a mid-term (or a pap smear!) by some officious government nerd.
Anyone do one of these things? Wha' happen, Lucy?