The Homeless Children
and Youth Act (HCYA) of 2017
Last week, we sent out information about how the HCYA aligns HUD’s definition with provider experience, data, and research. In this brief, we look more closely at how HYCA impacts your work as a provider.

HYCA: A More Accurate Definition of Homelessness

HUD’s current definition of homelessness significantly underestimates the number of families experiencing homelessness in our country. This makes it much more difficult to raise awareness about the problem, and limit federal and local resources to help communities support these families.
HCYA changes HUD’s definition of homelessness to align it with research and provider experiences. HCYA also prohibits HUD from issuing regulations that restricts eligibility for HUD Homelessness assistance programs to certain categories of the HUD definition of homelessness. The new definition would ensure that:
  • Families who are staying temporarily with others because they have nowhere else to go are eligible for HUD Homeless Assistance.
  • Families staying in motels are eligible for HUD Homeless Assistance, regardless of how their placement in motels is funded.
  • HUD Homeless Assistance can be used to serve children and youth verified as homeless by another federal program without the current impractical requirements to prove length of homelessness, frequency of moves, chronic disabilities, and histories of abuse.
  • HUD Homeless Assistance can be used to serve individuals or families who have a court order (or any credible evidence) indicating they will lose housing within 30 days, rather than 14 days under the current law.
  • The definition of homeless youth is aligned with the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and is defined as youth under the age of 22 who cannot live safely with a parent, legal guardian or relative and has no other safe alternative living arrangement [6] .
HCYA also amends the definition of “chronically homeless,” [7] “underserved populations,” [8] and “victim service provider.” [9]

HCYA Will Help Your Work

The new definition of homelessness in the HCYA will ensure that local providers can:
  1. Serve those most in need in your community, according to local assessments rather than HUD priorities.
  2. Leverage accurate data to pursue new funding (both public and private).
  3. Make better use of emergency funds by including families of diverse circumstances in the definition of homeless. (The current definition often forces providers to place families in emergency shelters or motels to qualify them for permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing. This would not be the case with the HCYA)

How You Can Help

We urge National Network members to learn more about the HCYA. At the Help Homeless Children and Youth website, you can find out who your elected officials are, and see how to call or write them. We also encourage you to reach out to your local officials in person. Please contact Barbara Duffield, Co-Chair of the Network’s Policy Committee, if you have any questions about the HCYA.
6 This definition comes from the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
7 The HCYA amends the definition of “chronically homeless” to include people who are homeless under other federal programs and dependent children with disabling conditions.
8 The HCYA amends the definition of “underserved populations” to include children under the age of five, as well as youth and young adults between the ages of 14 and 25.
9 The HCYA amends the definition of “victim service provider” to include victims of trafficking.