When documenting a program participant’s chronically homeless status, under what circumstances is it acceptable for the length of time homeless to be documented based solely on a program participants self-report?

Date Published: March 2015

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The Prioritization Notice provides guidance on how recipients of CoC Program-funded PSH are now required to document a household’s status as chronically homeless for dedicated and prioritized beds, including the order of priority for obtaining evidence. In general, recipients must seek documentation in the following order: (1) third-party documentation, (2) intake worker observations, and (3) certification from the person seeking assistance, self-report. This means that ideally, all documentation would be obtained first through third-party documentation, then intake worker observations, and lastly through self-report if neither of the other sources are available.

When documenting duration of homelessness, either continuous period of homelessness or number of occasions, there are limitations on the extent a period can be documented solely through self-report. To document 12 months of continuous homelessness, only 3 months can be documented via self-report. So at least 9 months of the 1-year period must be documented by one of the following: (1) HMIS data, (2), a written referral, or (3) a written observation by an outreach worker. To document at least four distinct occasions of homelessness, at least three of the occasions must be documented in the same manner. Up to 3 months for continuous or one occasion for occasional may be documented via self-report from the person seeking assistance.

In extremely rare circumstances, a self-report may be accepted for the entire period when third-party evidence cannot be obtained. When such cases present, the intake worker must obtain a certification from the individual or head of household seeking assistance, and document all efforts made to obtain third-party documentation. The intake worker must also document the severity of the households living situation. An example of where this might occur is where an individual has been homeless and living in a place not meant for human habitation in a secluded area for more than 1 year and has not had any contact with the homelessness assistance system during that entire period.

Tags: CoC Permanent Supportive Housing