McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance

Homelessness Definition

The McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act provides a definition of homeless children and youths to be used by state and local educational agencies (LEAs).  It defines homeless children and youths to be those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.  Under the larger umbrella of lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, the law also provides several examples of situations that meet the definition. 

The examples include children and youths:

  • sharing housing due to a loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;

  • living in hotels, motels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to a lack of alternative adequate housing;

  • living in emergency or transitional shelters;

  • abandoned in hospitals;

  • living in a public or private place not designated for, or normally used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

  • living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar places;

  • living in one of the above circumstances and who are migratory according to the definition in Section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

When considering if a student meets the criteria in the definition provided by the law, it is important to remember that the list provided is only a guide, and more situations may exist that meet the criteria than are actually listed.