The proposed definition would introduce a time measurement for an episode of homelessness that would disqualify a significant number of vulnerable people from receiving permanent supportive housing.
Chronic homelessness is characterized by two characteristics: frequent or lengthy episodes of homelessness and the presence of a disabling condition (mental or physical). Under the current definition of chronic homelessness, an individual is recognized as chronically homeless if he or she has experienced an episode of homelessness either for one year or more, or four times in a three-year period.
Currently, the length of a homeless episode required to meet the definition is 15 days.
The proposed rule would change this significantly, requiring the cumulative length of the four episodes to be at least one year. Under such a standard, four episodes of equal length would be around 90 days per episode.
In the Alliance’s comments, we note that under the proposed definition, some communities would have very few people considered chronically homeless.
Monarch Housing Associates and the Alliance strongly urge HUD to consider allowing more flexibility for communities.