What is Homelessness?

Share & Bookmark, Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

The federal government defines "homelessness" as a condition in which an individual or family lacks a fixed, regular, nighttime residence; resides in a public or private residence that is not designed or intended to be a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; lives in a supervised shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements; and/or is at imminent risk of losing their housing and has no subsequent residence identified or resources to obtain other permanent housing.

Category 1: Literally Homeless


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

  • Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation;
  • Is living in a publicly or private operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing and hotels/motels paid for by charitable organizations by by federal, state and local government programs); or
  • Is exiting an institution where they have resided for 90 days or less and resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately prior entering that institution.

Category 2: Imminent Risk of Homelessness

 Individual or family who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence, provided that:

  • Residence will be lost within 14 days of the date of the application for homeless assistance;
  • No subsequent residence has been identified; and
  • The individuals or family lacks the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing.

Category 3: Homeless under Other Federal Statutes

 Unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age, or families with children and youth, who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition, but who:

  • Are defined as homeless under other listed federal statutes;
  • Have not had a lease, ownership interest or occupancy agreement in permanent housing during the 60 days prior to the homeless assistance application;
  • Have experienced persistent instability as measured by two moves or more during the preceding 60 days; and
  • Can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time due to special needs or barriers.

Category 4: Fleeing/Attempting to Flee Domestic Violence

 Any individual or family who:

  • Is fleeing, or is attempting to flee, domestic violence
  • Has no other residence; and
  • Lacks the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.

Information within chart is courtesy of the City of Costa Mesa

Homelessness is a very unique form of poverty, one that lacks personal relationships and financial resources.These individuals typically have no one to turn to for shelter or assistance. They are individuals who have gone through difficult experiences and need help getting back on their feet.