Homeless children and youth report that school is a home to them – a place where they see the same faces, sit in the same seat, and can put their hearts and minds into pursuits that ease their daily troubles. In school, students gain the skills and support needed to avoid poverty and homelessness as adults.


Setting the Context

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) leads the federal government's efforts to prevent and end homelessness. The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, signed into law in 2009, provides for the prevention of homelessness, rapid re-housing, consolidation of housing programs, and new homeless categories. The HEARTH Act also includes four educational assurances requiring collaboration between HUD-funded homeless service programs and school districts.

NAEHCY Resources

Definitions of Homelessness for Federal Program Serving Children, Youth, and Families
The two major definitions of homelessness in use by federal agencies are the education definition in Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Act, and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition in Section 103 of Subtitle I of the McKinney-Vento Act. This chart illustrates the similarities and differences between federal agencies’ definitions of homelessness.

NAEHCY Sample HUD-LEA Collaboration Policy
This sample policy provides procedures and best practices as it relates to the requirement under the HEARTH Act for Continuum of Care programs to collaborate with Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) to:

  • Identify homeless families and inform them of their children's educational rights;
  • Consider the educational needs of children when families are placed in emergency or transitional shelter and, to the maximum extent practicable, place families with children as close to possible to their school of origin;
  • Establish policies and practices that are consistent with and do not restrict the exercise of homeless students' educational rights; and
  • Designating a staff person to ensure that homeless children are enrolled in school and connected to services within the community

Strategies for Implementing HUD Homeless Assistance Requirements to Collaborate with Schools
The HEARTH Act includes four requirements for HUD-funded homeless service programs related to education. These requirements, and suggestions for implementing them, are described in this NAEHCY document.

Housing + High School = Success. Schools and Communities Uniting to House Unaccompanied Youth
This publication provides a step-by-step guide and practical tools to create four different temporary housing models for unaccompanied youth: host homes; group homes; independent living; and emergency shelters. The steps are designed to give readers tools to establish these programs in their communities and include sample youth applications, host home applications, powers of attorney, parental consent forms, confidentiality notices, job descriptions, posters, flyers, Power Point presentations, data collection tools, and other useful forms and documents.

Federal Resources

Download the full text of the HEARTH Act

Other Resources

National Center for Homeless Education
The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) serves as the information and technical assistance center for the U.S. Department of Education's Education for Homeless Children and Youth program.
Visit NCHE's Housing resources webpage

NAEHCY 2018 Conference
Anaheim, CA
October 27-30, 2018
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Homeless Students in ESEA Reauthorization
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