While probably everyone has some idea of what it means to be homeless, in the context of service delivery and the development of strategies to prevent and end homelessness, it’s important to be precise.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are four categories of homelessness:

Literally Homeless – An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:

  • Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation;
  • Is living in a publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state and local government programs); or
  • Is exiting an institution where (s)he has resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution.

Imminent Risk of Homelessness – An individual or family who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence, provided that:

  • Residence will be lost within 14 days of the date of application for homeless assistance;
  • No subsequent residence has been identified; and
  • The individual or family lacks the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing.

Homeless under other Federal statutes – Unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age, or families with children and youth, who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition, but who:

  • Are defined as homeless under the other listed federal statutes;
  • Have not had a lease, ownership interest, or occupancy agreement in permanent housing during the 60 days prior to the homeless assistance application;
  • Have experienced persistent instability as measured by two moves or more during the preceding 60 days; and
  • Can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time due to special needs or barriers

Fleeing/Attempting to Flee Domestic Violence – Any individual or family who:

  • Is fleeing, or is attempting to flee, domestic violence;
  • Has no other residence; and
  • Lacks the resource or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.

Posted in: HOMELESSNESS IN THE US