Every social service agency or organization that provides help to homeless persons and families in San Angelo, TX seems to define homelessness in different ways. Sometimes this may influence referral decisions between organizations, leaving the homeless person or family very confused about where to go for specific services or help. At times, I am at a loss as to where to send someone for the specific help they need.
HUD issued its final regulation on January 4, 2012 which implements changes to the definition of homelessness contained in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act. HUD is the primary source of funding for many of the public and private social service organizations in San Angelo. Since the definition affects who is eligible for various HUD-funded homeless assistance programs, we all need to pay attention to the changes and integrate these changes into our criteria for whom we serve.
The new definition includes four broad categories of homelessness:
People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided. The only significant change from existing practice is that people will be considered homeless if they are exiting an institution where they resided for up to 90 days, and were in shelter or a place not meant for human habitation immediately prior to entering that institution.
People who are losing their primary nighttime residence, which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation, within 14 days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing.
Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state. This is a new category of homelessness, and it applies to families with children or unaccompanied youth who have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment.
People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, have no other residence, and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.
Here’s a link to National Alliance to End Homelessness’ Federal Policy Brief regarding the 2012 HUD changes – HUD Definition Of Homeless Changes. I have always found the National Alliance to End Homelessness a great resource for understanding HUD policies.