Federal definition of homelessness:

  • People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided.
  • People who are losing their primary nighttime residence, which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation, within 14 days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing. Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state.
  • People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, have no other residence, and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.

Near-homelessness: People who are temporarily staying with others (doubled up) in relatively more stable conditions.

Continuum of Care (CoC) program: Is a HUD program to promote region-wide planning and strategic use of resources to address homelessness; improve coordination and integration with mainstream resources and other programs targeted to people experiencing homelessness; improve data collection and performance measurement; and allow each community to tailor its program to the particular strengths and challenges within that community. There are 13 Continuum of Care regions in Minnesota.

Cost-burdened housing: Housing for which a household (owner or renter) spends more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs (rent and utilities). “Severely cost burdened” housing is housing for which the household pays more than 50 percent of their income.

Fair market rent: This amount, determined annually by HUD, is the value of a monthly rent payment that makes 40 percent (in a few locations, 50 percent) of local apartments available to a renter. In other words, it is the dollar amount below which 40 percent of the standard-quality rental housing units in the region are rented. It is used to determine payment standards for certain federal housing programs.

Food stamps: See SNAP

HUD: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Homeless shelters

  • Battered women’s shelters: Safe refuge and advocacy for women and their children when fleeing an abusive situation.
  • Emergency shelter: A safe place to sleep, generally open only evenings and overnight. May provide meals, housing information, and other services.
  • Transitional housing: Time-limited, subsidized housing that involves working with a professional to set and address goals to become self-sufficient.

Permanent supportive housing: Affordable, long-term, community-based housing with support services for people with multiple barriers to getting and keeping housing. Because permanent supportive housing is not temporary, its residents do not fit the definition of homelessness and are not included in the statewide survey.

Point-in-Time (PIT) count: A count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. HUD requires that Continuums of Care conduct an annual count of homeless persons who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night. Continuums of Care also must conduct a count of unsheltered homeless persons every other year (odd numbered years). Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally.

SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamp program): The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. The Food and Nutrition Service works with State agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can make informed decisions about applying for the program and can access benefits. FNS also works with State partners and the retail community to improve program administration and ensure program integrity.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for people who have worked and paid into the Social Security system enough to have earned coverage under their disability insurance program. You can get the benefit if you have this work history and then become blind or disabled, or if you are the spouse or child of someone who has. It can also be for adults who have been disabled since childhood, if they are otherwise eligible.  Like regular Social Security, the amount of benefit you get is based on how much you paid into the system when you were working.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Federal program that gives monthly cash benefits if you or a child are disabled or blind, have low income and assets, and meet the other eligibility requirements.  You have to go through a complicated application process to prove the disability. The monthly payment varies depending on your other income and resources. You do not have to have paid into the Social Security system to qualify for SSI.

WIC: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.