Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. People Who Experience Long-Term Homelessness: Characteristics and Interventions. Chronic Homelessness Defined

09/01/2007

It is widely agreed that chronically homeless adults constitute a small but significant subgroup of the homeless population. The federal governments definition of chronic homelessness (reflected in policies and programs adopted by the Interagency Council on Homelessness, HUD, HHS, and the VA) is as follows: An unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either a) been continuously homeless for a year or more OR b) has had at least 4 episodes of homelessness in the past three years. This definition of chronic homelessness also has been adopted by many states, while some have expanded this definition to also include families that meet the same criteria. Disabilities or disabling conditions often include severe and persistent mental illness, severe and persistent alcohol and drug abuse problems, and HIV/AIDS. There is little information available about the prevalence or characteristics of adults who experience long-term homelessness but do not have any identified disabling conditions, who are therefore excluded from the most widely used definitions of chronic homelessness.

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