In Search of a Clear Definition of "Homeless"
HUD has begun the process of implementing the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 (HEARTH Act), consolidating three separate assistance programs into a single grant program.
The HEARTH Act creates the Emergency Solutions Grant Program and the Rural Housing Stability Program, and codifies the Continuum of Care planning process to assist homeless persons.
To aid in structuring the assistance programs, HUD is seeking to give clear definitions to several terms used in the HEARTH Act. These terms are “homeless,” “homeless individual,” “homeless person,” and “homeless individual with a disability.” HUD has proposed that individuals and families may qualify as homeless under four possible categories:
Those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;
Those who face the imminent loss of their primary nighttime residence;
Those who are unaccompanied youth and homeless families with children and youth who are defined as homeless under other federal laws who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under the definition; or
Those who are fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against them that has either taken place within their primary nighttime residence or has made them afraid to return to their primary nighttime residence, and who have no other residence and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.
In proposing further clarification of these categories, HUD seeks public comment by June 21, 2010, preferably by electronic means via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. More details can be found in the Federal Register, Vol. 75, No. 75, April 20, 2010.