On October 9, HUD released new guidance to help intake workers determine and document the homeless status of youth using the definition of homelessness found in the Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) programs to prevent youth from being mistakenly turned away from housing and services. The guidance reiterates the review procedures HUD officials had outlined during an April Senate hearing on youth homelessness (see Memo, 05/04).
The guidance describes each of the four categories of homelessness according to living situation and the types of documents needed to certify a youth’s homeless status. The four categories are:
- Literal Homelessness: The youth is living in emergency shelter, transitional housing, a hotel or motel paid by the government or charity, or on the street or a place not meant for human habitation.
- Imminent Risk of Homelessness: The youth is living with family or friends but is being asked to leave in 14 days, or the youth is staying in a hotel or motel paid by the youth, family, or friends where the youth cannot stay for more than 14 days.
- Homeless Under other Federal Statute: The youth is considered homeless under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, has moved two or more times in the last 60 days, or can be expected to having continued housing instability due to a disability, substance abuse, domestic violence, or two or more barriers to employment.
- Fleeing Domestic Violence: The youth is fleeing or attempting to flee a housing situation where he or she is trading sex for housing, is being trafficked or physical abused, or fears violence due to his or her sexual orientation, and the youth has no safe, alternative housing, resources or support networks to obtain or maintain permanent housing.
According the HUD, “Youth are not responsible for obtaining their own documentation. Instead, intake workers are responsible for documenting the youth’s homeless status by verifying information provided by the youth starting at the initial review. Using contact information or documents provided by the youth, the intake worker should obtain the information [required by the category of homelessness]. If at any point the youth does not want someone to be contacted because he or she fear for their safety, the intake worker SHOULD NOT contact the person and should document the youth’s feelings and statements in the case file. If the intake worker cannot obtain a higher level of documentation (e.g., a letter from a third-party) the youth can self-certify and the intake worker should document their effort to obtain a higher level of documentation, including notes about why they were not able to gain a higher level of documentation.”
Even after a service provider verifies a youth’s homelessness status, the provider still has to verify that the youth meets the criteria to be eligible for a specific project.
Read the guidance here: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/Determining-Homeless-Status-of-Youth.pdf