Homelessness: Targeted Federal Programs and Recent Legislation [May 6, 2015]   [open pdf - 455KB]

"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. 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. A number of federal programs in seven different agencies, many originally authorized by the McKinney-Vento Act, serve homeless persons. These include the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program administered by the Department of Education (ED) and the Emergency Food and Shelter program, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program run by the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers multiple programs that serve homeless individuals, including Health Care for the Homeless, Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth program."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL30442
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