The following is a summary of the most significant changes between the definitions of chronically homeless previously in effect and the definition included in the CoC Program interim rule as amended by the Final Rule Defining “Chronically Homeless”:
- To be considered chronically homeless, an individual or head of household must meet the definition of “homeless individual with a disability” from the McKinney-Vento Act, as amended by the HEARTH Act and have been living in a place not meant for human habitation, in an emergency shelter, or in 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;
- The term “disabling condition” was replaced with “homeless individual with a disability” from the Act. While the types of conditions that can be considered are the same, the definition of “homeless individual with a disability” also requires that the condition be of long and continuing duration; substantially impedes the individual’s ability to live independently; and, is expected to improve with the provision of housing. To be eligible for permanent supportive housing generally, an individual or family member must be considered a “homeless individual with a disability”, therefore, HUD adopted this term into the definition of chronically homeless to ensure consistency;
- Occasions are defined by a break of at least seven nights not residing in an emergency shelter, safe haven, or residing in a place meant for human habitation (e.g., with a friend or family). Stays of fewer than seven nights residing in a place meant for human habitation, or not in an emergency shelter or safe haven do not constitute a break and count toward total time homeless; and
- Stays in institutions of fewer than 90 days where they were residing in a place not meant for human habitation, in an emergency shelter, or in a safe haven immediately prior to entering the institution, do not constitute as a break and the time in the institution counts towards the total time homeless. Where a stay in an institution is 90 days or longer, the entire time is counted as a break and none of the time in the institution can count towards a person’s total time homeless.
The final rule also establishes recordkeeping requirements for documenting chronically homeless status, as further described in FAQ 2755.