November is Homelessness Awareness Month

November 8, 2021

Each year November is recognized as Homelessness Awareness Month. This is a time to bring attention to the most vulnerable in our communities. ARA® is dedicating this month to education, awareness, and highlighting other organizations that have the same end goal: end homelessness in the United States.


Today we will share what it means to experience homelessness and who is the most at risk of homelessness.


Let’s start by defining homelessness and what it means to experience it.


While there are many definitions, the Department of House and Urban Development (HUD) defines experiencing homelessness in four parts.These definitions lay out what our government uses to address this issue. The statutory language of these definitions is derived from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the Homeless Emergency Assistance andRapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009. This information can be found in the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.


The four-part definition of those who are experiencing homelessness includes:
  1. An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or places not meant for habitation, or
  2. An individual or family who will imminently lose their primary nighttime     residence (within 14 days), provided that no subsequent housing has been identified and the individual/family lacks support networks or resources needed to obtain housing, or
  3. Unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age, or families with children and youth who qualify under other Federal statutes, such as the Runaway and Homeless     Youth Act, have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment, or
  4. An individual or family who is fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, has no other residence, and lacks the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing


In simple terms it is someone who has no permanent place to go to at night. There are also different types of homelessness as well, sheltered and unsheltered.


Sheltered homelessness refers to people who are staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, or safe havens. This can also be individuals or families who “double-up” and are living with someone, in their home or apartment, temporarily.


Unsheltered homelessness is different. These are people whose primary nighttime location is a public or private place not designated for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for people. This could be sidewalks, streets, vehicles, parks, etc.


Now let's look at who is the most at risk for falling homeless.


The first is individuals or families who have an annual income below 30 percent of median family income for the area, as determined by HUD. Another population at risk is those who do not have sufficient resources or support networks, immediately available to prevent them from moving to an emergency shelter or place not meant for habitation.Lastly those who exhibit one or more risk factors of homelessness, including recent housing instability or exiting a publicly funded institution or system of care such as foster care or a mental health facility also are at a high risk for experiencing homelessness.


This is a serious and frequently overlooked issue in our society. Our mission through this post is to educate you on what exactly homelessness is. Together we want to work toward ending this issue for so many. Come back later to learn ways in which you can help and who is doing their part in working to end homelessness in the United States.


Join our wave of change and help us continue to educate this month by sharing this article with your friends!


The majority of this information was found from the AnnualHomeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress which can view here:

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