Homelessness is a complex situation.
Homelessness Impacts Individuals and Families
Individuals and families enduring homelessness are diverse in their backgrounds and demographics, and the factors that led them to become homeless are equally as diverse. The most significant causes of homelessness are unemployment or underemployment, high housing costs or an unexpected event such as the loss of a job, injury, illness or the loss of a spouse. Research has shown that with regards to all of these factors, there are three different patterns of usage of the homeless service delivery system:
Three Patterns of Delivery System for Homelessness
- Episodic: An individual is considered to experiencing episodic homelessness when they are having recurrent problems with housing. Often these individuals have seasonal/minimum wage income or sporadic domestic situations that affect stable housing.
- Situational: An individual is considered to be experiencing situational homelessness when they are facing some sort of housing, health care, financial, or job loss crisis. When homeless services are provided, these individuals usually are able to locate and obtain another stable housing situation.
- Chronic: HUD released a new definition of “chronic homelessness” in December 2015, effective January 2016. Previously, an individual was considered to be experiencing chronic homelessness when they had a disabling condition and had been continuously homeless for a year or more or had at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years. The new definition is different in these ways:
- First, in terms of length of homelessness, the four episodes now have to add up to 12 months. Before the new definition, an individual could technically be homeless four different days over a three-year period and be classified as chronically homeless.
- Second, previously people who exited institutional care facilities after spending fewer than 90 days there would not have that period counted toward their homelessness. Now, it will be.
- Third, the time between periods of homelessness has now been defined as seven days in order for the period of homelessness to constitute an “episode.”
- Finally, HUD has clarified the way in which service providers should verify whether an individual’s homelessness experience meets the definition of chronic homelessness.
Homelessness in Guilford County
In Guilford County, the incidence of homelessness has declined over the past decade. Yet, in 2015, over 2,700 individuals contacted the Guilford county Homeless service providers. Multiples of this number teeter on the verge of homelessness.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines an individual as experiencing homelessness in four categories:
Literally Homeless: Individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:
- Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation;
- Is living in a publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state and local government programs); or
- Is exiting an institution where (s)he has resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution
Imminent Risk of Homelessness: Individual or family who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence, provided that:
- Residence will be lost within 14 days of the date of application for homeless assistance;
- No subsequent residence has been identified; and
- The individual or family lacks the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing
Homeless under other Federal statutes: Unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age, or families with children and youth, who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition, but who:
- Are defined as homeless under the other listed federal statutes;\
- Have not had a lease, ownership interest, or occupancy agreement in permanent housing during the 60 days prior to the homeless assistance application;
- Have experienced persistent instability as measured by two moves or more during in the preceding 60 days; and
- Can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time due to special needs or barriers
Fleeing/Attempting to Flee DV: Any individual or family who:
- Is fleeing, or is attempting to flee, domestic violence;
- Has no other residence; and
- Lacks the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing
For more information about homelessness in the United States, check out the 2015 State of Homelessness Report