The HEARTH Act

The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 was signed into law on May 20, 2009. The HEARTH Act amends and reauthorizes the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act with substantial changes, including:

  • A consolidation of HUD’s competitive grant programs
  • The creation of a Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program
  • A change in HUD’s definition of homelessness and chronic homelessness
  • A simplified match requirement
  • An increase in prevention resources
  • An increase in emphasis on performance

To read the amended and reauthorized McKinney-Vento Act, see The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the HEARTH Act.

 

Homeless Definition

Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 233 / Monday, December 5, 2011 / Rules and Regulations 76017

An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:

  1. An individual or family with 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, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground;
  2. An individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, or local government programs for low-income individuals); or
  3. An individual who is exiting an institution where he or she resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution.

 

Chronically Homeless Definition

Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 233 / Friday, December 4, 2015 / Rules and Regulations 75791

A ‘‘chronically homeless’’ individual is defined to mean a homeless individual with a disability who lives either in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or in an emergency shelter, or in an institutional care facility if the individual has been living in the facility for fewer than 90 days and had been living in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or in an emergency shelter immediately before entering the institutional care facility.

In order to meet the ‘‘chronically homeless” definition, the individual also must have been living as described above continuously for at least 12 months, or on at least four separate occasions in the last 3 years, where the combined occasions total a length of time of at least 12 months. Each period separating the occasions must include at least 7 nights of living in a situation other than a place not meant for human habitation, in an emergency shelter, or in a safe haven.

Chronically homeless families are families with adult heads of household who meet the definition of a chronically homeless individual. If there is no adult in the family, the family would still be considered chronically homeless if a minor head of household meets all the criteria of a chronically homeless individual. A chronically homeless family includes those whose composition has fluctuated while the head of household has been homeless.

Recipients and sub-recipients of Continuum of Care Program funds are required to maintain and follow written intake procedures to ensure compliance with the ‘‘chronically homeless’’ definition. The procedures must establish the order of priority for obtaining evidence as third-party documentation first, intake worker observations second, and certification from the individual seeking assistance third.

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