Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation [February 3, 2014] [open pdf - 473KB]
"The causes of homelessness and determining how best to assist those who find themselves homeless became particularly prominent, visible issues in the 1980s. The concept of homelessness may seem like a straightforward one, with individuals and families who have no place to live falling within the definition. However, the extent of homelessness in this country and how best to address it depend upon how one defines the condition of being homeless. There is no single federal definition of homelessness, although a number of programs, including those overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Department of Labor (DOL) use the definition enacted as part of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. [Public Law] 100-77). The McKinney-Vento Act definition of a homeless individual was broadened as part of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-22). Previously, a homeless individual was defined as a person who lacks a fixed nighttime residence and whose primary nighttime residence is a supervised public or private shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations, a facility accommodating persons intended to be institutionalized, or a place not intended to be used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. The law expanded the definition to include those defined as homeless under other federal programs, in certain circumstances, as well as those who will imminently lose housing."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30442