Defining Homelessness

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines homelessness in the following 4 categories:

Category 1: Literally Homeless: An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; meaning

  1. Sleeping in a place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation, including a car, park, abandoned building, camp ground, etc.
  2. Living in a shelter designated to provide temporary arrangements, including congregate shelters, transitional housing, hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or federal/state/local government programs.
  3. Exiting an institution (i.e. jail, hospital) where they resided for 90 days or less AND were residing in emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering institution

Category 2: Imminent Risk of Homelessness: Individuals/families who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence (which includes housing the individual/family owns, rents, shares with others without paying rent, or rooms in hotels/motels that are paid for by the individual/family seeking assistance) within 14 days AND

  1. Have no subsequent residence identified AND
  2. Lack the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing.

Category 3: Homeless under other federal statutes: Unaccompanied youth under 25 or families with children and youth who do not otherwise qualify as homeless, but who

  1. Meet homeless definition under another federal statute; AND
  2. Have not had lease, ownership interest, or occupancy agreement in permanent housing at any time during last 60 days; AND
  3. Have experienced two or more moves during last 60 days; AND
  4. Can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time because of chronic disabilities, chronic physical health or mental health conditions, substance addiction, histories of domestic violence or childhood abuse (including neglect), presence of a child or youth with a disability, OR two or more barriers to employment.


Category 4: Fleeing/Attempting to flee domestic violence: Individuals/families fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions related to violence, who

  1. Have no identified subsequent residence; AND
  2. Lack the resources and support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing.