Hidden Homelessness in the U.S.: Why Congress Must Change HUD’s Definition of Homelessness to Align With Other Federal Agencies

An FAQ created by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Family Promise, National Network for Youth, and SchoolHouse Connection.

What is HUD’s role and how does it define and measure homelessness?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency that oversees national policy and programs related to housing needs and fair housing laws. This includes programs intended to address homelessness, such as rental assistance, housing vouchers, public and subsidized housing, and funding for emergency shelters and wrap-around services. HUD defines homeless as “a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”  To estimate the number of people experiencing homelessness in the United States, HUD conducts an annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count on a designated night in January. The PIT count tallies people staying at shelters, transitional housing programs, or a place not meant for habitation, such as a park or car.  

The Problem

The Solution

Challenges and Progress to Date

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How can I support the campaign to align HUD’s definition of homelessness?

Support efforts to pass the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA), which would align HUD’s definition of homelessness with nine other federal programs.

  • Ask your U.S. representatives and senators to support HCYA through this simple form.
  • Sign up your organization as a supporter of HCYA here.