Statistics & Definitions
Child and family homelessness is an escalating crisis. Accurate data is difficult to obtain and validate due to the transitional and often “invisible” nature of the population.
- One in every 45 children in the U.S. is homeless each year (Source: America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness, National Center on Family Homelessness)
- More than 1.6 million children in the U.S. are homeless each year (Source: America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness, National Center on Family Homelessness)
- Family homelessness is the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, accounting for 41 percent of the nation’s homeless population in 2009 (National Coalition for the Homelessness)
There is no single definition for homelessness. Below are several federal and state definitions of homelessness.
Federal Definition of Homelessness: an individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence; or an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is: (1) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); (2) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or (3) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (Source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development)
Massachusetts Definition of Homelessness: an individual who both lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence and who resides in emergency or transitional shelter programs, or who lives in places not designed for human habitation such as cars, abandoned buildings, the woods or the street. Persons residing in institutional or recovery programs that were homeless upon entry and are without housing upon release are considered homeless (Source: Report of the Special Commision Relative to Ending Homelessness in the Commonwealth)
McKinney-Vento Definition of Child/Youth Homelessness: individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence including: (1) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement; (2) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; (3) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations or similar settings; and (4) migratory children.