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HUD Publishes Final Rule on Chronic Homelessness Definition

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

On December 4, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing: Defining “Chronically Homeless,” the final rule that clarifies HUD’s definition of chronic homelessness in the Federal Register.

This final rule seeks to reduce the lack of consistency across communities in defining an “episode” of homelessness and clarifies recordkeeping requirements for documenting chronically homeless individuals and families.  According to the final rule:

  • A chronically homeless individual must have a disability and have been living in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or emergency shelter continuously for at least 12 months, or had four distinct occasions (previously known as “episodes”) in the last three years where the cumulative length of time for those occasions total at least 12 months.
  • An occasion of homelessness can be as brief as a single day or night and the rule clarifies that an end to each occasion must be followed by at least seven consecutive nights where an individual or family is not living in an emergency shelter, safe haven, or a place not meant for human habitation. For example, an individual who has had a single encounter with a homeless provider on a given month would be considered homeless for the whole month if there were no evidence to prove that person was not residing in a shelter, safe haven, or a place not meant for human habitation for seven consecutive nights.
  • Individuals who had been experiencing an occasion of homelessness before staying in an institutional facility for fewer than 90 days are still considered as experiencing the same occasion of homelessness and the total time spent institutionalized is counted toward their total time homeless.

This definition is effective as of January 4, 2016, and must be implemented by all Continuum of Care recipients starting on January 15, 2016 for all new program participants. Individuals and families who are currently receiving services under the interim rule will not be affected by the new change.

The final rule provides recordkeeping requirements and establishes an order of priority for obtaining and verifying chronically homeless status.

Click here to review the final rule. 

Click here to read Ann Oliva, HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, SNAPS in Focus message. 

Click here to read HUD Lead on Ending Chronic Homelessness, Marcy Thompson, SNAPS in Focus message. 


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