original article on the web at: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/chronic/chronicqanda.html
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Report from the Secretary’s Work Group on Ending Chronic Homelessness, March 2003.
The definition of “chronic homeless”:
HHS, HUD, and VA have agreed on the characteristics of persons experiencing chronic homelessness and use the following definition in their collaborations:
An unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or has had at least four (4) episodes of homelessness in the past three (3) years.
By definition, the “chronic homelessness” initiative excludes the following groups of people:
CHILDREN (with disabilities and without disabilities) who are homeless with their parents;
PARENTS (with disabilities and without disabilities) who are homeless and who have children with them;
YOUTH on their own with disabilities who have not been homeless long enough to fit the federal definition;
YOUTH on their own without disabilities;
unaccompanied individuals with disabilities who have not been homeless long enough to fit the federal definition;
unaccompanied individuals without disabilities; and
unaccompanied individuals who are unwilling to be declared disabled.
Press releases, plans to end homelessness, and news articles are using the terms “chronic homelessness” and “homelessness” interchangeably, as though they were one and the same. In this collapsing of categories, all people experiencing homelessness are either pathologized or made invisible.
The “chronic homelessness” initiative fails to address the ROOT of the problem, POVERTY, and the affordable housing crisis that underlie homelessness for all populations. To separate homelessness from poverty and housing is fundamentally to distort its causes.