Defining Chronically Homeless: Final Rule

HUD is making changes to the definition of chronic homelessness. This final rule establishes the definition of “chronically homeless” that will be used in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, and in the Consolidated Submissions for Community Planning and Development (CPD) Programs. This definition has been the subject of significant public comment which has guided HUD in establishing the definition of “chronically homeless” that will be used in its homeless assistance programs. Historically, other programs within HUD, as well as other agencies such as the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), have adopted HUD’s definition of chronically homeless and may also choose to adopt the definition of “chronically homeless” included in this final rule, however, it is not required. Here are a few notable changes:

  • To be considered chronically homeless, a person must have a disability and have been living in a place not meant for human habitation, in an emergency shelter, or a safe haven for the last 12 months continuously or on at least four occasions in the last three years where those occasions cumulatively total at least 12 months;
  • Replaced “disabling condition” with “homeless individual with a disability”;
  • There is not a minimum number of days in which each occasion must total but instead, occasions are defined by a break of at least seven days not residing in an emergency shelter, safe haven, or residing in a place meant for human habitation;
  • Stays in institutions of fewer than 90 days do not constitute a break and count toward total time homeless; and
  • The final rule establishes record-keeping requirements for documenting chronic homelessness that take into account how providers use Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) and that does not require documentation of each day of homelessness but a method that can be more easily implemented.

The final regulation was published in the Federal Register on December 4, 2015. CoC recipients must comply with the regulations promulgated by this rule as of January 15, 2016.

To view the rule in its entirety, visit the following link: Defining “Chronically Homeless”: Final Rule

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