Official Definition of Homelessness


In January 2016, HUD changed the definition of chronically homeless. The new definition can be found here:


Sonoma County CoC Members may utilize this form for record keeping under the Final CH Rule:



On December 5, 2012, HUD issued a final rule revising the definition of homelessness to align better with other federal definitions. The full text of the final rule is here:


Here is a simple graphic presentation of the new At Risk definition and the Homeless definition, with documentation requirements:


HUD has published a webinar on Determining Homeless and At-Risk Status, Income and Disability, which you can access here.

The new definition took effect for general purposes on January 4, 2012. It immediately affects ESG grants, and phased in with new CoC-funded contracts over the course of 2012. In summary the new rule includes:
  • People considered homeless under the old rule (living in places not meant for human habitation, in shelters or transitional housing intended for homeless persons)
  • Persons living in a shelter or TH who temporarily resided in an institution for 90 days or less (this used to be 30 days or less)
  • Persons imminently losing their housing within 14 days (this used to be 7 days).
  • Families with children, or youth, who have experienced a long period without living independently in permanent housing, have experienced persistent instability/frequent moves over that period, and are expected to continue in this status for an extended period of time. HUD has defined “persistent instability as 2 or more moves over 60 days." (This is new for HUD but substantially borrowed from other federal definitions).
  • Persons fleeing domestic violence or other family violence who have no other residence nor resources to obtain other permanent housing (the only change is clarifying no resources or options).

Because documentation has been the biggest source of monitoring findings, the new rule specifies the documentation requirements for each element of this definition. A summary of documentation requirements is here:




Coming soon: Disability definition and documentation requirements.