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Homeless Definition

Who is considered homeless?

Title IX, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act defines homelessness as living in the following places due to a lack of a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

  • In an emergency or transitional shelter
  • In a motel, hotel, or campground due to lack of an adequate alternative 
  • In a car, park, public place, bus or train station, or abandoned building
  • Doubled up with relatives or friends due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
  • In the above conditions and is a migratory child or youth
  • Further descriptions of nighttime residence

This definition of homelessness applies to children and youth with:

  • Uncertain housing
  • A temporary address
  • No permanent physical address

Children and youth living in these settings meet criteria for the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness and have special educational rights.

Eligibility updates for unaccompanied youth

On December 13, 2019, Superintendents Memo 283-19 was released with information about eligibility is viewed for McKinney-Vento services for youth not living with their parents.  This memo indicates that students who move in with a friend or relative because of a CPS safety plan or other planned circumstance should not be considered to meet eligibility criteria for McKinney-Vento.  For additional information, please see the following:

Where can a child or youth without a fixed, regular, and adequate residence attend school?
  • The school the child or youth attended before becoming homeless or was last enrolled (school of origin)
  • The school in the attendance area where the child or youth is currently living
How can delays be avoided when enrolling a student experiencing homelessness in school?
  • Enroll the student immediately
  • Contact the previous school and ask that the records be sent electronically or shared over the phone
  • Contact the principal, school counselor, or local homeless education liaison with any concerns
  • Contact the local homeless education liaison to support unaccompanied youth when enrolling in school
Interview with Dr. Popp:

How Project HOPE has helped students experiencing homelessness-Video

How do we define students experiencing homelessness?-Video

How does homelessness affect students?-Video

How to identify students experiencing homelessness-Video

Why do we have students experiencing homelessness?-Video

How many students are experiencing homelessness?-Video


Additional Information:
Confirming Eligibility for McKinney-Vento Rights and Services
Serving Students Experiencing Homelessness under Title I, Part A

For more information on enrollment and services for students experiencing homelessness, contact Project HOPE-Virginia or the local homeless education liaison for your school division.